He always does better when he records with a dedicated band, and Robyn Hitchcock indeed gets a boost from a cohesive sound. It also helps that the album rocks. “I Want To Tell You About What I Want” gets out of its one-chord groove in time, and while “Virginia Woolf” spends less time on her than Sylvia Plath, it follows right along with terrific guitar leads. “I Pray When I’m Drunk” is a something of a Johnny-Cash-meets-the-Byrds pastiche that works by being brief. “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” opens the same way as the first track, but opens up with a terrific chorus. Things finally slow down for the lengthy “Sayonara Judge”.
“Detective Mindhorn” seems to be connected with the fictional star of a recent British film; catchy as it is, it’s too long to be a theme song. The country sound resurfaces on “1970 In Aspic”, another curious look back at a year from his youth, a theme he continues on “Raymond And The Wires”, another tribute to his father. Another slower song goes longer on “Autumn Sunglasses”, with plenty of Rickenbacker 12-string and a lyric that doesn’t sound too labored. Finally, “Time Coast” ends the set with toe-tapping garage rock.
Robyn Hitchcock is another one of those albums that sounds great when it’s playing, and will likely continue to. But by the time we get around to listening to it again, he’ll have another one out.
Robyn Hitchcock Robyn Hitchcock (2017)—3