Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Apr 29, 2010 Web Exclusive
Robyn Hitchcock's new album with his Venus 3 (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin) was actually recorded in 2006, after the group's debut, Olé Tarantula, and before last year's Goodnight Oslo, its delayed release a product of Hitchcock's simply not having finished the tracks. But Propellor Time rivals the best of his new band's work. Differing from his last Venus 3 album, Propellor Time was recorded at Hitchcock's home, and the vibe on the album reflects a certain looseness and comfort that being at home must bring. Banjo and mandolin, the latter care of guest contributor John Paul Jones, pepper the arrangements while acoustic guitars dominate.
Unlike Goodnight Oslo, there are no girl-group background vocals or horn-and-string backing here. And it's a good thing, presenting Hitchcock's songs in pure form, highlighting his songwriting skill, which has aged like a fine wine. "The Afterlight" is all banjo and peculiar ruminations on life and death ("Everyone is made of meat/They're full of life and life is sweet/Sweet as honey to the bear/He'll tear you into bits of hair"). "Ordinary Millionaire," which features Johnny Marr, is a nice bit of atmospheric psychedelic with added oboe for effect. "Evolove" (not a typo) is a jab at Creationists, which asks, "If Jesus was alive, would you give him a high-five?" And the album's most catchy, melodic moment is a darkly humorous societal commentary called "Sickie Boy." Hitchcock truly has seemed to hit his stride with the Venus 3. Here's hoping we get more songs from home in the near future. (www.robynhitchcock.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10
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