So, in a similar spirit of embracing musical constraints, the other day I was vacuuming our room for the first time in … longer than I care to admit… and I was listening to the Robyn Hitchcock album Luxor. I bought it after we saw him at Johnny D’s in October 2003, which was probably one of the top 10 rock show’s I’ve ever seen. I’m not a big fan of his 80′s stuff (though “Balloon Man” does get in my head every time I’m near Bryant Park in New York). But I love, love, love Eye, Moss Elixir, and to a lesser extent Jewels for Sophia / A Star for Bram. But most of all, I love Luxor, which he recorded as a 50th birthday present to himself in one afternoon, just him and his guitar [shut up, all of you] in his backyard. And the finished product fits what I think he does when he’s at his best, sort of a folky, Syd Barretish, surrealist, word-driven, brainy pop, delivered with his unmistakeable crackling British voice.
[PS: His most recent album with the Venus 5 (some non-trivial fraction of R.E.M.) is a good example of him at his overproduced worst. The 2004 album Spooked, with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, is not too bad, though I have to say it did not live quite up to my high expectations for it. The more I delve into her catalogue, the more I love Gillian Welch.]