Release Date: Feb 17, 2009
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
A Robyn Hitchcock album always sounds like a Robyn Hitchcock album. Whether he’s fronting psych-pop band the Soft Boys, playing a solo acoustic show, whipping up college rock songs with the Egyptians, or working with his latest outfit, the Venus 3, Hitchcock’s immediately recognizable voice seems to push his musical accompaniment to the background. This aspect of the Robyn Hitchcock experience ensures continuity across his discography, but it could also become a crutch, or even a hindrance, if Robyn were to let it.
After making records for three decades, Robyn Hitchcock has largely lost the ability to surprise listeners, which isn't in itself a bad thing -- the consistent strength of his work had led the average fan to expect a handful of good to great songs and lively, compelling performances whenever Hitchcock releases a new album, and with very rare exceptions he hasn't let fans down yet, even if he doesn't deliver an Underwater Moonlight or I Often Dream of Trains or Element of Light each time he heads into the studio. Released in 2009, Goodnight Oslo isn't going to force listeners to reassess their opinions about Robyn Hitchcock at this stage of the game, but it's also an album that shows the man is still in firm command of his abilities, and in many respects it's as consistently pleasurable as anything Hitchcock has released since the mid-'90s. Like 2006's Olé! Tarantula, a large share of the credit for Goodnight Oslo's effectiveness is the contribution of Hitchcock's backing band, the Venus 3 -- Peter Buck on guitar, Scott McCaughey on bass, and Bill Rieflin on drums.
Eccentric English singer-songwriter adds to his hit-or-miss catalog As no fewer than three collections of Robyn Hitchcock reissues and rarities have been released since his last studio album (2006’s Ole! Tarantula), it appears that it’s now time to re-evaluate the famously eccentric singer-songwriter’s work. consistently excellent but seldom exceptional, staying close to the John Lennon and Bob Dylan foundations upon which he has built his famous fixations with sex, food, death, and bugs. With his 16th solo album, he’s not so much competing against himself as he is against our expectations that he’s doing something that’s worth our continued attention.
There are certain things you come to expect from a Robyn Hitchcock album: slithery Lennonesque vocals; wry, surrealistic lyrics; cascading vocal harmonies; quirky experimental moments; melancholic chiming chords. It's all here on Goodnight Oslo, the whimsical Cambridge singer/songwriter's 16th studio release, another instantly familiar-sounding offering. [rssbreak] The 10-song album ricochets between great - the grammatically playful What You Is, the countryish Hurry For The Sky - and just okay.
Eighty-five percent of self-described music lovers have no idea what their favorite songs are about. That’s because 27 percent of songs aren’t about anything (e.g., “Kiss From a Rose,” “Crank Dat”) (actually, those aren’t the best examples, since they might both be about bukkake), and 58 percent of people don’t pay much attention to lyrics. This explains why Tom Petty can be written off as a safe-playing Dylan wannabe while two-thirds of his oeuvre dwells on depression, suicide and domestic violence.