With a infectious lead single, and Jason Faulkner at the helm, how many rabbits can the Irish pop sensation pull out of a hat on their 7th release? Tons!
Berry Gordy knew how to run a record label. A roster of great artists, brilliant songwriters and the best session players who ever drew breath. He also knew that if you didn’t grab the public’s attention at the top of an album, you’d lose them instantly, so track one, side one is crucial. Any album that starts with “What’s Going On”, “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” or “Heat Wave” just has to be killer all the way through, right? Thomas Walsh of Pugwash knows his pop and he’s learned from the best, so he’s front-loaded “Silverlake” with “The Perfect Summer”, a tune so dangerously infectious, it has to be illegal. The rest of the album can’t be as good, can it? I’m delighted to say – yep.
Walsh has been Pugwash-ing since 1999 and this is album seven. All the albums are great, but this one is a little bit greater. With impeccable taste, he’s drafted in Jason Falkner, who does a one man Wrecking Crew job on “Silverlake” and while Walsh writes the songs, sings them and strums on his acoustic guitar, Falkner does the rest. He’s a pop-rock Mike Oldfield, but with nicer hair.
So, what does “Silverlake” sound like then? It sounds like joy. It’s the sound of finding a crumpled ten-dollar bill in a jacket you haven’t worn in months. It’s the sound of waking up on a Monday morning and remembering it’s the first day of a week off work. It’s the sound of the ice cream truck on the hottest day of the year. Once you recover from the sugar rush of “The Perfect Summer”, you get “What Are You Like?” which might even be better than the opener. The album starts off well and stays there for 36, fun filled minutes. The choruses are so big they’re visible from space and Walsh sings them beautifully, in a voice that reminds me a little of Jon Auer of the Posies. No histrionics or X Factor melisma abuse, but a quietly confident and beautifully accurate tenor. He’s a class act.
Picking a highlight is almost pointless, because all of the tunes are highlights, but I’m a “rock critic” so here goes… “Why Do I” sounds like all your favourite XTC tunes have jumped on top of each other in your living room. All syncopated beats and some uncanny Partridge-Gregory style, guitar interplay. “Sunshine True” has a charming “White Album acoustic ballad” feel – Walsh croons, the strings add the details and John Lennon nods approvingly. Todd Rundgren springs to mind for the last track, “Autarch”, but it’s a Todd Rundgren who laid off the acid and listened to nothing but mid-seventies ELO albums. Falkner plays his socks off on this track, too.
This record needs to be huge. By any means necessary. It’s the antidote to all the mean spirited, self-obsessed, nitwittery that seems to be all pervasive at the moment. “Silverlake” is a reminder that human beings are capable of doing incredible things every now and then. Buy this record.
Get this record at the Loijinx website