Robyn Hitchcock’s New Self-Titled Album May Be His Best Yet, by Tom Fredrickson

Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock (Yep Roc)

Is it possible that, at the midpoint of his seventh decade, Robyn Hitchcock has delivered his finest album? Certainly, it is his strongest sounding work in decades. Taking nothing away from his excellent past collaborations with Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey, much credit here must go to producer Brendan Benson, who has crafted settings that pay full tribute to Hitchcock as a master of the electric guitar. This is an unabashed rock and roll record, but it is also one of Hitchcock’s most consistently tuneful, imaginatively performed, and deeply felt. The whimsical surrealism that earlier often congealed into mere creepiness has evolved into a metaphysics of memory; the shades that haunt him now are those of his late father and lost lovers. Indeed, there’s nary a song that doesn’t trace—sometimes with rage, often with equanimity—the passage of time, the cost of loss, and the approach of an ending—if not the ending, for throughout there is the suggestion that something more awaits us. Amidst all the farewells being bade, the moments that seem at the heart of this heartfelt record are those in which Hitchcock floats above it all and sings “I’m walking on air” or “I wonder…” or—in words we would all hope to find at our apogee—“Oh, God, you were beautiful!”

Tom Fredrickson is the proprietor of the unparalleled music blog, Lost Wax Method.

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