A perfect little world of mid-tempo, piano-based, chorus-heavy impressions.
Martin Aston 2012-08-24
No wonder Euros Childs, the main brain of Welsh pastoral psych beauties Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, chose to concentrate on solo ventures. You can only force so much of your creative mania on other people.
Post-Gorky’s 2006 split, Summer Special is his eighth solo album, not counting collaborations with Norman Blake (Jonny) and Meilyr Jones (First Cousins). But it’s never been dull or predictable. From Welsh language pop (2007’s Bore Da) to country influences (2008’s Cheer Gone); toy-town electronica (2009’s Son of Euro Child) to avant-pop adventures (2010’s Face Dripping); right up to voice/piano ballads (2011’s Ends), each album has addressed a different facet of Childs’ persona, so there is no question (yet) of burn-out.
Summer Special is Childs in pure pop phase. Thirty minutes long, it’s a perfect little world of mid-tempo, piano-based, chorus-heavy impressions. There’s evidence of Childs’ fondness for Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt’s idiosyncratic vintage creations, of lilting pop that ebbs and flows with elusive undercurrents.
But there is a more distinct mainstream 1970s MOR gentility at play: Childs says the album was made, “under the influence of becoming a Gilbert O’Sullivan convert on the island of Jersey in 2010.” Well, it makes a change from magic mushrooms up a Welsh hillside.
The songs are all of a piece, but That’s Better is the album’s lead single for a reason, Around and Around is a tailor-made follow-up, Roogie Boogie is the most MOR-charming (Chas and Dave, were you on Euros’ Jersey holiday too?), and Headphone Mona is just plain gorgeous. The mood turns strangely wan toward the end, as if Mona has vacated the premises, or Childs is composing on a bench on a deserted promenade as the clouds roll in.
But despite the run of These Dreams of You, That Good Old Fashioned Feeling (winner of Best Song Title in the Spirit of Gilbert O’) and Skipping and Dancing (happy title, sad face), the closing Good Feeling tries to act like summer isn’t over. But it is, figuratively and physically, but Summer Special is an especially lovely memento. Now, what’s next? Grindcore?