Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Robyn Hitchcock 29: Love From London

After thirty years as a solo artist, with a catalog that has sold well into the dozens, Robyn Hitchcock doesn’t inspire more than a raised eyebrow from most people, least of all those who wonder why he gets so much attention from this blog. Admittedly, his heyday is well in the past, but for those still longing for the consistency he supplied in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, Love From Londøn comes the closest yet.
First of all, a circular piano part drives “Harry’s Song”, a mysterious number and oddly foreboding opener. “Be Still” is more upbeat, harmonious and pinned by an insistent cello part, while “Stupefied” combines a tabla effect with handclaps and dotty piano. It takes bollocks to write a song called “I Love You” at this late date, and he marries it to a pretty obnoxious backing. More successful is “Devil On A String”, with its college-rock guitar and canned sax.
Besides having a very Hitchcockian title, “Strawberries Dress” could have easily been lifted from an Egyptians album. “Death & Love” are topics he’s covered fully, but here don’t really figure past the title. “Fix You” takes the lyrical hook from the Coldplay song and turns it into a commentary on capitalism (“Now that you’re broke, who’s gonna fix you?”) with a suitably tense backing. “My Rain” is very intricate acoustically and electrically, and matches “Harry’s Song” for the gem of the album. Just to keep things constant, “End Of Time” is a happy sounding song about death, with seashore effects that recall his first solo album and a reprise of what is presumably the album’s title track.
The credits would have us believe that any drums heard on Love From Londøn are computerized, yet the album sounds just as lively as any of his recent work with a human percussionist. We hesitate to give it a higher rating than what we have, but it really is one of his better albums of this century.

Robyn Hitchcock Love From Londøn (2013)—3

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