Rather like Rufus Wainwright, he can both hit and miss his target, though he’s never less than totally ambitious and it’s always lovingly produced.
This new album is a definite bull’s-eye. Opener Wingman sets the tone, his slightly falsetto vocals (he’s a bit Conor Oberst) mixing pleasantly with almost perfect pop music. Like Rufus Wainwright, this is very grown-up pop, with a lush sound, highly produced, and extensive use of strings.
We thought track two Elephant Graveyard was going to give us one of those all too rare special moments, when a track suddenly leaps out and hits you as brilliant; a song you need to play over and over. But not quite, and also not quite for track four In A Dive, which appears to be a mournful song about religion: “Jesus and his blood don’t mean so much any more / Something must’ve died in this rotten apple core”.
Also nearly leaping out as brilliant was the more electronic Son Of The Left Hand. But all this is possibly a good thing, because it means the tunes will survive repeated plays rather than being five-minute wonders (see Echosmith, below).