Artist: "Robin Hitchcock"
Album: "I Often Dream of Trains"
Genre: Alternative Rock
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Review: Robyn Hithcock has been variously compared to the Beatles, Syd Barret and Bob Dylan, a musical speculation of what might have happened had the psychedelic period of the late sixties never ended. I think that’s the kind of floundering you often find when critics are uncomfortable with originality, though it at least gives you some point of reference if you’ve never heard his work.
“I Often Dream of Trains” was released in 1984. It was his third solo album after his original band “The Soft Boys” broke up, and it’s my favorite. While Hitchcock is wonderful with a full band, for me his solo work has more depth. Playing most of the instruments, harmonizing with himself on multiple tracks, the emotional texture of the album is more encompassing.
His trademark themes of mortality, sex and food are all on display here, framed by lonely, distant piano nocturne prelude and what’s listed as a ‘demise’ (as opposed to ‘reprise’). Rollicking humor like the gender speculation “Sometimes I wish I was a pretty girl” and “Uncorrected personality traits”, an acapella paraphrasing of psychological diagnosis in three part harmony aren’t just balance for the albums overall melancholy, they support it. They’re the sweet in the bitter sweetness of the title song, a litany of English commuter rail stations transformed from the commonplace to the exotic by longing.
“And there in the buffet car
I wait for eternity
Or Basingstoke or Reading...”
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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