It’s not exactly clear what solo piano music could possibly have to do with the contours and character of a 1950s car, but then it’s not exactly clear how Andrew W.K.’s thinking works in pretty much any context. What is clear is that he’s always thinking—and mostly, as befits a rocker who got big with a bloody mouth and a raging voice, thinking hard.
W.K.’s music has always had a deceptive complexity to it, even—or especially—at its most outrageously dumb extremes. (He made his name screaming “Party Hard” over what was essentially a karaoke din, but the density of that din remains a marvel.) It shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn, then, that W.K. is a trained pianist with a mind to make a record solely of solo piano instrumentals. He definitely sounds like he knows what he’s doing on an album that changes color and mood while moving through different speeds.
W.K.’s piano playing is dynamic, as might be expected. The eight-plus-minute opener “Begin The Engine” traffics in a rumble of low-end notes topped with twitchy trills, building toward the kind of seizing uplift a W.K. fan would expect. But W.K. pulls back just as often, with a lot of touch. Some of 55 Cadillac swells with too much melodrama (“Seeing The Car” sounds a little too West Wing for its own good), but the whole of it is impressive: a curio that makes a good case for sticking around.