Pugwash - Silverlake album review

If XTC went through a 3D printer…

Pugwash - Silverlake album artwork

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Twenty years into a career that’s won praise from his own heroes (Andy Partridge, Dave Gregory, even Jeff Lynne and Brian Wilson) but never broken into the mainstream, Pugwash are now effectively Thomas Walsh solo again – the band of the last four albums battles on no more. The Dubliner has acquired a significant new ally, though, recording this in LA with Jason Falkner playing, singing and producing. Falkner is nothing if not versatile, being surely the only man with Jellyfish, Daniel Johnston, Paul McCartney and Noel Gallagher on his collaborations CV in some shape or form. And do this pair still sound a lot like their joint idols XTC? Of course. Usually people discuss stuff like chords and melodies when comparing Pugwash to Swindon’s finest, but it’s also obvious that Walsh’s voice is like a lab-designed fusion of Partridge and Moulding. In fact, the songs are largely more conventional than those of their muse. Pop rock tracks with simple hooks abound, as on opener The Perfect Summer, and bar the odd psychedelic wink, little ruffles the grey matter until the mild disruption of finale Autarch, which plumps for Beach Boys and ELO ‘homages’. Easy on the ear.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.