Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & the Cairo Gang: The Wonder Show of the World

Drag City

The Wonder Show of the World is Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's easiest listening experience since The Letting Go. It's not too cryptic, and from the sparse nostalgia in "Troublesome Houses" to the smirking sweetness of "Go Folks, Go" (featuring Mt. Eerie's Phil Elverum), the album sheds the oft-impenetrable façade of Will Oldham's songwriting. What's left is a string of relaxed melodies in a tangle of acoustic and electric guitars echoing Oldham's wistful ramble in "Teach Me to Bear You" and "Kids." With The Wonder Show, what you see is usually what you get. Still, a line like, "Don't go to bed tonight if you know that something's waiting to grab you ...," from "That's What Our Love Is," embodies the haunting imagery of Oldham's greatest songs. Is he singing about a monster or a lover? That's for the listener to decide. For Oldham, they are one in the same. 5 out of 5 stars.