“Wheel” by Wotts sounds euphoric. The chord progression and instrumental textures just ooze saccharine, cheerful goodness. However, one listen to the lyrical content, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a clever juxtaposition. With its thought-provoking message about death, it shows the peachy atmosphere in a different light, making something most people regard as inevitably scary seem peaceful. The ultimate effect is a sort of pleasant acceptance–spurred on by irony and brilliant musicianship.
An acoustic guitar strums a bittersweet progression. “Look out he got away / Get back down you gotta pray / Don’t stray / They say ‘That’s how it go,” a warm voice performs these delicately rhymed phrases. Strings and crisp shakers carry the ambiance forward while the lyrics paint a slightly depressing picture. It’s soon doctored by the pre-chorus, which flips the narrative by emphasizing humanity and love over the drudging, everyday expectations of life. The chorus erupts with a twinkling xylophone and a catchy, higher-pitched melody: “We’re going after / Ever after / Where you go.” Whether you find it ominous or relieving, you can’t deny the emotional effect of these words.
The rest of the song carries through its sublime chord progressions and cheeky production style with ease. You have the opportunity to melt into the delightfully clamorous instrumental, which hosts an anthemic string motif and a lot of creative background noise. By the end, we return to a solo acoustic guitar and vocal, solidifying the full-circle shape of the song and acting as a metaphor for life itself. Wotts shows us the beauty of surrendering to the throws of the world just like we’d surrender ourselves to good music.
Written by Alyce Lindberg