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Westerman – An Inbuilt Fault Review

Clamber aboard Westerman’s vessel, draped in the late stage, melted works of Salvador Dalí. Colourful, incinerated and fearful. Distorted intensities and the wildcard ramblings of the art-pop staple. Every motion within An Inbuilt Fault, the sophomore album of Will Westerman, is processed and thought through before being committed to. Consideration, the slow build, the coming out of the shell into fluid motion and wonderful beats, bring out the best in opening track Give. He opens by way of apology, the bridge fallen, the Molotov’s rattling, the heart ebbing away. His inbuilt faults are for his audience to take on, to strive through and engage with when they can. It is not easy to give, An Inbuilt Fault rests on that lyric but proves the dedicated attempts to do just that, to give, are not wasted.  

Nor do they fall on deaf ears. Westerman focuses this steady art-pop rhythm with incredible intention. Westerman is connected to the world around him. He makes movements of natural flow and story-like intention on Idol; Re-Run. Chiselling out that status of lush art-pop sees Westerman stumble somewhat, but it adds to the aim of An Inbuilt Fault. Inherently doubtful of the self and considering the cracks that show themselves over time is a healing process. For some it is a risk and horror, to continue through that way. Death is a train, as I, Catallus declares. Offerings and responses are the excellent contrast enveloped there. Westerman benefits from a deep and thoughtful voice that connects the every day with the unclear. CSI: Petralona does that well, with people drinking and moving themselves on from somewhere they find they are no longer needed. 

Keen understandings of presenting an image of solemnity and comfort come through on Help Didn’t Help At All. What listeners are expected to do, how social media presents the false image of a person not struggling, is opened. Westerman is keen to crack open these moments and does so sporadically, and confidently. Still, his lyrics can often leave a jaded or cold mark, as the patchier end to Help Didn’t Help At All does. Upbeat cautions on A Lens Turning make for heavier listening, a real and considered shift in momentum for Westerman. Heartbreak, isolation, whatever it is that the listener feels, it is considered well on the cries for help, the fear of lack of identity, on A Lens Turning. It never shakes off the late-stage Peter Gabriel appeal, but it works neatly for what Westerman aims for. 

An Inbuilt Fault finds itself leaning toward folk and string-reliant pieces toward its end. Lovely work. The title track showcases that shift in momentum, an assured Westerman takes hold of that chance and never lets go on a powerful end to an art-pop style that soon turns to its roots. It is a knowing change, one that benefits an artist stepping out of his comfort zone and testing the waters of somewhere new. He finds a balance well enough, and An Inbuilt Fault finds itself detailing a strong vocal lead, think Sam Fender had he come from the other side of the country and been haunted by isolation and spectres. Replace his electric gusto and bucket hat-wearing saxophonist, replace it with twinkling piano notes and acoustic, shuffling poetry and it feels quite wonderful. Pilot Was A Dancer is proof enough of that similarity, but the pair, clearly, make fundamentally different works. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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