10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Robyn Hitchcock works a difficult terrain. He first sprung to life as a member of the Soft Boys in the late ‘70s and used their elliptical and chiming backing to accentuate his psychedelic oddness. His ‘80s solo work employed the Egyptians to do more of the same. But as he’s gotten older, he’s become more of a genuine solo act and the surrealist flights of fantasy have sometimes seemed strained. Here, Hitchcock is backed by the Venus 3 — Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin — and they replicate the sound of his old school Egyptians, adding arpeggiated guitars, tuneful basslines and sublime harmonies (“(A Man’s Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs”) that give Hitchcock the right company, but there’s an undeniable loneliness nonetheless. Hitchcock has often sung about death (he once wrote “My Wife and My Dead Wife”), but it always seemed like a way-off event or something as goofy as his lyrics. Here he sounds like someone who’s heard a knock, as evidenced by “N.Y. Doll,” a fitting tribute to the late New York Dolls bassist Arthur Kane. Just goes to show even the certifiably weird come down to earth sometime.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Robyn Hitchcock works a difficult terrain. He first sprung to life as a member of the Soft Boys in the late ‘70s and used their elliptical and chiming backing to accentuate his psychedelic oddness. His ‘80s solo work employed the Egyptians to do more of the same. But as he’s gotten older, he’s become more of a genuine solo act and the surrealist flights of fantasy have sometimes seemed strained. Here, Hitchcock is backed by the Venus 3 — Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin — and they replicate the sound of his old school Egyptians, adding arpeggiated guitars, tuneful basslines and sublime harmonies (“(A Man’s Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs”) that give Hitchcock the right company, but there’s an undeniable loneliness nonetheless. Hitchcock has often sung about death (he once wrote “My Wife and My Dead Wife”), but it always seemed like a way-off event or something as goofy as his lyrics. Here he sounds like someone who’s heard a knock, as evidenced by “N.Y. Doll,” a fitting tribute to the late New York Dolls bassist Arthur Kane. Just goes to show even the certifiably weird come down to earth sometime.

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