Robyn Hitchcock’s “Propeller Time” Spins With An Excess of Talent

What does it say about Robyn Hitchcock that his new album, Propeller Time, isn’t really new, but was recorded in 2006, and has marinated on a hard drive all the while, waiting for its dramatic entry in the world? Its recording sequenced between the live Sex, Food, Death, and… Tarantulas and last year’s Goodnight Oslo, the lovely Propeller Time comes from a week of 2006 sessions with friends like Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Nick Lowe, John Paul Jones, and Johnny Marr.  Hitchcock describes sessions taking place in his living room, and refers to it as his Basement Tapes, but this does the collection insufficient justice, because it is a wonderfully collected selection of songs, as strong, in a quiet way, as Ole! Tarantula or Goodnight Oslo.

(Though we can see that he had The Basement Tapes on his mind, as the vocal phrasing on this “studio” version of “The Afterlight” comes straight from Dylan’s “Tiny Montgomery.”  Still, The Basement Tapes were late-night bashings of exuberantly half-constructed songs, and by comparison, Propeller Time sounds like Abbey Road: fully constructed folk-pop that pulls out most, if not all of the stops.)

Since the Carter Administration, since his debut with The Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock has beguiled us with canny melodies, brilliant guitar lines, and lyrics that try diverting us with entemological loopiness, but which leave a web of poignancy.  To Hitchcock, overburdened with talent, with songs to spare, with so many friends willing to record with him, Propeller Time was sufficiently minor an exercise that it’s sat on the proverbial shelf for four years, and still it could blow away ninety-nine percent of the pop music left on the runway.  Hitchcock lost a little steam in the 1990s, but since the early part of the last decade he’s been going strong.  The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock should be a prime tourist destination for all space travelers who find our little planet.

Note: Propeller Time will be released next week by Yep Roc, but is downloadable now from robynhitchcock.com.

One Response to “Robyn Hitchcock’s “Propeller Time” Spins With An Excess of Talent”

  1. […] the viewing booth, the refs have declared Robyn Hitchcock’s glorious Propeller Time (which we reviewed here ) as absolutely kosher, even though it was recorded in 2006.  Recorded and then banked in the vast […]

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