Music / Features
Track by Track:
Wilding - The Death Of Foley's Mall
Words by Madison Woods
Friday 16th October, 2020
Following the release of The Death of Foley’s Mall earlier this month, we had the enthralling Wilding walk us through each track, to share the stories that make up his new Coburg-centric concept album.
Wilding’s songs are as exhilarating as they are evocative. As the project of Melbourne songwriter Justin Wilding Stokes, The Death Of Foley’s Mall is a sublime concept album with 11 character-study songs he wrote about people living in Coburg - part real, part fiction. Featuring different scenes from different characters, this album is a collection of stories discussing love, loss, grief and hope.

The beginning of The Death Of Foley’s Mall is distinctive and bold, leading with his latest single 'Swipe Right'. With a mix of syncopated guitars and bouncing synths, this electrifying new wave pop song is the perfect start to the peculiar journey Wilding takes us on. Flowing into 'The World Will End Today' and 'Speed King Of The Commonwealth', the start of the album is the perfect soundtrack for cruising along the highway with the windows down, happily letting the wind mess up your hair.

Breaking away from the pumping drums and infectious guitar riffs, the album shifts to a slower pace, leaving us feeling homesick for a place we don’t quite know. The mournful title track 'The Death Of Foley’s Mall' is the most haunting of all, capturing feelings of nostalgia whilst also finding comfort in the captivating guitar melodies. These lighter songs, such as 'You’ve Never Looked So Beautiful As Now', are proof of the eclectic songwriting ability Wilding holds. Finishing up with 'Moreland Hotel', the album begins to lift up again, leaving listeners dancing in tune to the anthemic lyrics. Beginning with empowering tracks before leaning into melancholia with more evocative sounds, The Death Of Foley’s Mall is an explorative album that sucks you in with its captivating storytelling.

Allowing us into his wonderful view of the world, Wilding was kind enough to give us a story breakdown behind each colourful track.
Swipe Right

This is a bouncy 80s-ish newwave pop song. I was putting myself in the shoes of a friend who pins her hopes on hopeless men. It’s not her fault though. It’s the app makers. Another example of our digital overlords intruding into our personal lives. Even love is an algorithm. I made the video during our current lockdown. It’s about falling in and out of love with an existential stick insect.

Losing Teeth

All the songs on my album are about people who live in and around Coburg. Part fact, part fiction. I filled the gaps. This song’s about a man down on his luck, who keeps losing his teeth. His teeth are the metaphor for how much his life has changed. It’s also about the many people who’ve found themselves homeless and vulnerable.

Fabian Hunter played some sickly, giddy guitar parts that seem to represent the turmoil the character in the song’s going through. Musically, 'Losing Teeth' reminds me of solo Lennon.

The World Will End Today

I released this song at the start of the pandemic. Couldn’t help myself. It’s both a warning about how we’re killing the earth and a satire on the wealthy elites who think they can jump planets to flee the environmental destruction of their own creation.

I love the bass and synth lines in this song - the closest I will ever get to hip-hop. And that’s quite far.

Speed King Of The Commonwealth

Its about a man who rides his mobility scooter with wilful abandon along the supermarket aisles. I borrowed one for the music video and it was pure joy. And I guiltily enjoyed the sympathetic looks people gave me. ‘Speed King’ is my most punk-sounding Wilding song. It’s short, fast and infectious. Like a wild ride on the scooter. I wanted it to be fuzzy, scuzzy, and loose but like many of my songs it’s still got a catchy pop sheen. So nothing like punk really.

I Will Recover

This song is a nod to The Kinks. I wanted this album to be my own Coburg version of The Village Green Preservation Society. The song’s breakdown has some Beach Boys-inspired acapella vocal harmonies that I learnt from watching a video about how to sing 'Barbara Ann'.

'I Will Recover' is about illness and resilience. Partly inspired by the real-life circumstances of friends who’d been through serious illness and disease while still young. Not all of them recovered. So I’m unsure if this song is a celebration or a delusion.

The Death Of Foley's Mall

This is the album’s centrepiece and marks a shift in mood from the more energetic songs to the mournful ballads. Foley’s Mall is a faded old Sydney Road shopping plaza and the conceptual setting for my album. Many of the lives of the characters on this album personify Foley's Mall. A parade of bargain hunters with remarkable human stories of love, loss, grief and hope. If you’re ever in Coburg I recommend getting a pot of tea at Twins Café in Foley’s Mall.

The song has a long fade out that symbolises decay and deterioration. Also, see if you can spot the kazoo. I try to get a kazoo solo on every Wilding album.


This song’s for Irene and the many other under-appreciated women in our society. She’s an elderly Greek woman who moved to Melbourne in the 1950s. She entered her first arranged marriage to a much older man. He died. She married again and led a hard-working life running a small bakery, while the carer for her three stepchildren and sick adult stepdaughter. A lot to take on! She now lives in a nursing home in Fawkner. I’ve eaten many of her chocolate sponge cakes.

You've Never Looked So Beautiful As Now

An old man holds the cold hand of his dead wife thinking she is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. Their love lasts until death. It’s death as the celebration of life. This is the setting for the song. Musically, I wanted to create a beach campfire vibe with percussion and vocal harmonies, sort of like the 1965 Beach Boys' Party! live album.

Time Will Pass You By

It's about my elderly neighbour who regularly sits outside his messy odds-and-ends garage. I’m drawn to the loneliness of old things - objects, buildings, stories, people. In this song, the junk inside my neighbour’s garage are all trinkets of his life’s story. But sadly, and inevitably, he’s becoming an object too. Unloved, discarded, but with history. I think I might end up that way too. During the songwriting process I realised that by writing about old people, I was actually writing about my own decay and death. So this is my death album. Robin Waters perfectly captures the mood of this song with some beautiful piano playing.

The Popular Season

Another nostalgic and melancholic song. It’s about looking through a photo album of a summer holiday romance from a long time ago. When memories were more tangible than the present. It’s about waving goodbye at the train station. We’ve all had that feeling.

Robin’s keys and wistful synths give it a haunting 60's chamber-pop feel.

Moreland Hotel

For the record, I detest gambling. But I’d find myself walking past the Moreland Hotel on my way home and being drawn into its world. I secretly recorded some sounds in the pokies room that I used to end out the album. During my visit, a hunched old man turned up with a gift for the bingo caller lady ⎯ a few tomatoes he'd grown in his garden.

The Death Of Foley's Mall is out now via Half A Cow Records - head to to stream or purchase the album.