Arno Carstens - Wonderful Wild

2010-05-02 14:16
Wonderful Wild

So can a veteran adult contemporary rock balladeer like Arno Carstens still compete?

Oh yes. The former Springbok Nude Girl front man's latest major label listing eases listeners who've never heard "Genie" into a virile mix of adult contemporary rock adventures. Don't be put off by that 'ACR' tag. Arno isn't. He knows there's no money – or many fans for that matter – in belting out alternative rock rages about picking bubblegum off his boots or managing mula like some kind of Peter Pan.

Nope. His concerns are far more mature. Now 38 years old, Ano’s got 40-something coming round the bend. He's spent the last few years jetting between Cape Town, London and Spain, performing, recording and networking. He's supported the Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Meatloaf and 'Vaseline' bloody Dion on tour. Brutal? No. It's been brilliant. Because he's finally giving it his best shot at making it big. And it's happening. Wonderful Wild earned him that UK release he's been hanging for. His new single "Heartbreak Monday" is playlisted on day time radio. And when an industry mogul like Jay-Z includes you on a list of rockers he personally wants to see at the upcoming Isle of Wight festival, then that 'next level' success you've been chasing for all these years is so damn close you can almost taste it.

No wonder Arno's writing huge, hook-laden ballads about being a "Daydreamer" and lilting acoustic rock parables about our "Wonderful Wild" world. He's seizing the moment for all it's worth. "Hold on to what you've got, keep on believing, I'll never stop dreaming" he croons on the aforementioned first single. So what if cynical critics might well want to dismiss it as an arena-rock ready candle waiver cut from Coldplay’s cloth? Arno has never written music for the critics. If you can't relate to his hearftelt relationship sketches about our universal search for emotional intimacy ("Perfect Day") or wistful, mature tales of making our way in the modern world ("Avalanche"), then hey, it's your loss.

See, there's nothing sentimental about Arno's shtick. Wonderful World isn't an 'adult contemporary' sales pitch. It's Arno simply baring his soul, sharing real emotions that anyone who's lived a little, laughed a little and cried a whole lot can tune into. Second single "Emergency" is a convincingly detailed paean to yet another "love worn out". It's also the perfect chorus to chant along to when you're trying to cultivate the courage to give your better half the goodbye they deserve. And then there's the show-stealing new single "Heartbreak Monday" which captures Arno at his most lyrically intense, desperately trying to find the heroism in living a 9 to 5 working class hell (the "corporate hounds banging your ear") while remaining trapped in a cycle of booze, drugs and depression. It's a riveting snapshot of self-abuse that every working stiff who's ever chased Friday afternoon 'drinkies' and woken up with an almighty hangover on Monday morning will instantly relate to.

The South African rock landscape has changed rather radically since Arno Carstens last graced our speakers. Since 2006's 'Hello Goodbye Boys', Seether burst into the Billboard Top 10 with their post grunge blockbuster 'Finding Beauty in Negative Things', The Parlotones turned their platinum-selling stadium craft into a b®and assault back at home, and Blk Jks invaded America with their futuristic Afro rock experimentalism.

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