- 21 Apr 17
Stellar effort from cult English art-rocker
Belonging to the long and distinguished tradition of English art school musicians, Robyn Hitchcock has never really enjoyed the commercial success his talents deserve. Still, he has at least come to the attention of a wider audience thanks to the championing of Hollywood director Jonathan Demme, whose concert film Storefront Hitchcock was as brilliantly inventive as his other classic contribution to the genre, Stop Making Sense. For this eponymous effort – his 21st album – Hitchcock decamped to Nashville and entrusted sometime-Raconteurs member Brendan Benson with production duties.
However, aside from one uproarious country pastiche (the brilliantly titled ‘I Pray When I’m Drunk’), there isn’t much of an Americana vibe to proceedings, with Hitchcock opting to stick to his tried and trusted songwriting approach – but what an approach. The likes of ‘Virginia Woolf’ and ‘Mary Shelley’s Letterbox’ are vintage exercises in juddering post-punk, while there are also masterful excursions into dreamy balladry (‘Sayonara Judge’) and atmospheric psychedelia (‘Autumn Sunglasses’).
Hitchcock’s renowned lyrical wit – he is essentially the Peter Cook of English rock – is also very much in evidence, with opener ‘I Want To Tell You About What I Want’ alone cramming more classic lines into one song (“I hear you’re thinking I’m a thug… Well, I lack the physique”) than most artists manage in an entire album.
Beloved of everyone from Led Zeppelin to REM, Hitchcock has only enhanced his status with this wonderful outing.