The welcome and unexpected news is that Gary Wilson seems to be feeling better these days. Sure, his 2016 effort It's Friday Night with Gary Wilson has cover art that suggests the guy still seriously needs therapy, as he wears his trademark shades over a bizarre mask, wraps himself with crime scene tape, and scrawls "HELP ME" all through the margins. But take the disc out of the case, give it a spin, and Wilson sounds more tuneful and better adjusted than...well, since he started making records. Wilson is still obsessed with women (though he prefers to describe them as girls) and serves up a fistful of love songs directed at possible partners he may not have ever spoken with. ("Like a Scene in a Movie Long Gone" in particular imagines a romance Gary probably lacks the courage to carry out, though the Linda he sings of might be charmed by it.) But if Wilson's music is as quirky as ever, it's more genuinely melodic this time out. His walls of low-budget keyboards and overdubbed choruses have evolved from creepy to oddly pleasing, and his knack for creating an effective (if off-kilter) pop melody is as strong as ever. "Sick Trip on Friday Night" and "You Made Me Feel My Misery" remind us Wilson hasn't entirely outgrown his adolescent doldrums, but "I Want to Hold Your Hand Tonight" and "We'll Dance into the Stars" suggest that he might be moving past his social ineptitude at long last. It's Friday Night with Gary Wilson is still the work of a talented eccentric, but one with more reasonable social skills, and if the changes aren't always dramatic, the journey to having a healthy relationship begins with a single step -- or, in this case, 14 songs.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming