New armchair sits well with retired Pitchfork writer Ajay Nadig

Most lives are populated by chairs.  In general, most of the worlds work gets done while seated, and one may even spend hours on a chair every day.  This rich tradition of chairdom has been kept going by a number of the big chair labels we all recognize: Staples, OfficeMax, and even Target to name a few.  However, as those chairs grow weary, lose their luster, and become hell on the back, it’s clear that there’s a void in the chair genre that needs to be filled by the new generation. And while WB480J’s latest hit Armchair may not be an instant classic, it’s a solid offering from a solid chair.

Although WB140J has certainly been around for a while, he has recently started smooth himself around the edges, as he becomes the leader of the chair genre.  The beginning of these changes was WB140J’s decision to terminate his contract with WALMART and sign with W.B.MASON.  While he gained praise for his stripped-down simplistic style on his first work Stool, it’s clear that a round platform is no longer enough for WB480J.   However, don’t let this chair’s smooth exterior fool you.  WB480J is still as much a part of indie office collective WALMART as he used to be: under that smooth façade WB480J is still as gritty as anything else that you would expect WALMART to produce. Some WB480J fans may be upset by the chairs choice to become a little classier.  However, these changes are nice: where WB480J once smelled kind of funky on Beanbag, WB480J now smells like new pleather, perhaps making himself more accessible to the masses.  All in all, Armchair feels like watching a sunrise from a dilapidated but not shut down factory in downtown Detroit.

How, may you ask, is WB480J catering to his WALMART past, even though now he’s signed with W.B.MASON?  He makes it clear that he recognizes his past by having a series of guest appearances on Armchair  by his old WALMART friends, namely ThrowPillow  and Febreze.  These guest appearances give some of WB480J’s tracks some of that good old “much cheaper than it looks” feel that it was so acclaimed for back in Stool days.  However, these guest appearances seem somewhat forced, as ThrowPillow’s post-leather Stool –style delivery seems out of placed on Armchair’s smooth interior: its like a time machine back to Beanbag’s over psychadelicized themes.

Armchair is not all smooth surfaces and adjustable seat heights.  Under the smooth leather lie some serious mechanical and conceptual errors. WB480J tries to recreate the ample lumbar support of chair gods like Staples and OfficeMax, it’s clear these grandiose features are still forced for WB140J: he acts like Armchair  needs to be his opus, when in reality WB140J still has plenty of time to make his mark on the industry.  Also, the chairs new style of ringing post-transient impressionist lyricism seem to be somewhat derivative of those of The Stroke’s Is this It. Lastly, the chair’s ephemeral Steve Buscemi-esque Native American-style shine is highly derivative of similar overtones produced by Animal Collective.

All in all, Armchair  is WB140J’s way of saying “I’m here to stay”.  WB140J is a serial number that the industry is never going to forget, even if Armchair isn’t a Chair-y winner.  WB140J has great work to do for W.B.MASON, which this reviewer wholeheartedly looks forward to.  In Armchair, I hear the ghosts of classic chairs of the 90’s, like Elementary-School-Chair-That-Had-A-Compartment-For-Your-Books-Under-The-Desk, and Cafeteria Bench.  Where Armchair is an old jalopy pulling into a posh villa in Madison, Wisconsin, the next step for WB140J is clear: a bright moonlit picnic on the Seine.