In 2004, Robyn Hitchcock's loose and folky Spooked saw the insect- and crustacean-loving eccentric enlisting the unlikely help of NPR darlings David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. This time around he's backed by "3/4s of the Minus 5 and half of R.E.M." (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin) as well as ex-Soft Boys Kimberley Rew and Morris Windsor, Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Harvey Danger's Sean Nelson, and ex-President of the United States of America Chris Ballew. A small army indeed, but a tasteful one.
There's something about working with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey – two-thirds of the Venus 3 – that brings out the Robynest aspects of Robyn Hitchcock. Going back to 1999's fine Jewels for Sophia, the same collaboration produced garage band rave up "Viva! Sea-Tac." For Olé! Tarantula, the quartet captures a harmonic pop mayhem they haven't approached individually with much consistency in the recent past. Both Buck and Hitchcock seem to cast back a good 20 years to the time that the former was still on I.R.S.