The Wrens’ Kevin Whelan Releasing New Album As Aeon Station In December
There’s a new wrinkle in the seemingly never-ending story behind the Wrens’ much-teased but never-released followup to their 2003 masterpiece The Meadowlands. A fresh New York Times profile of the group reveals that the band’s Kevin Whelan has made a new album that will be out on December via Sub Pop. It’ll feature five songs that were intended for The Meadowlands followup and five new ones.
The album, which is called Observatory, will not feature contributions from the group’s most vocal member, Charles Bissell. Whelan plays mostly everything on the album, though there are some contributions from his other Wrens bandmates, brother Greg Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald, and the album’s co-producer Tom Beaujour. It will also not be attributed to the Wrens. It’ll come out under the name Aeon Station, which Kevin Whelan says “sounds like a band … but isn’t.”
Kevin Whelan told the Times that Observatory came about as the result of the protracted process that has been making the followup to The Meadowlands, much of which has played out in multiple public pronouncements that the album was finished, for real this time. But no album has materialized, despite promises from Bissell as recently as the beginning of 2021. After submitting a completed album to Sub Pop in 2013, Bissell backed out. “The songs were great,” Whelan told NYT. “But I always say that. I’m that guy. He’s the other guy. I’m good with the third take, he’s like, I need three years of takes.”
It seems like things were once again rolling in 2019, but the Times notes that Bissell wanted to work on “internal band stuff” before releasing whatever they had recorded, which (per reporter Hugo Lindgren) seems to have involved renegotiating the business side of the band to compensate Bissell for what he’s done with the Wrens since releasing their last album. “Charles wanted to feel more understood, more heard about what he contributed,” Whelan said. “I was never against that, but when we started talking about how to do it, it got very drawn out and complicated.”
It was then that Whelan decided to record Observatory on his own. Its lead single will be called “Queens,” which apparently boasts a chorus of: “You said it was all in, you said it was all in.”
Bissell has not yet commented publicly on Whelan’s new project, though the Times did talk to him briefly for the piece. He mentioned being a stay-at-home dad, which he says “I would have considered preposterous when I was self-centeredly in my music universe but now I can’t imagine wanting life to be any other way,” and talked about his cancer diagnosis, which he finished treatment for last spring.
Aeon Station’s new album Observatory will be out 12/10 via Sub Pop.