I just want to say “thank you” to Thomas Walsh, the man and the madness behind the Irish pop outfit, Pugwash. At a time when final papers are piling up, and exams that seemed ages away last week are now bearing down like Tsunami, he and his band of merry songsters have made me smile from ear to ear and forget that I have a shit-ton of work I still haven’t completed. I just received the album in the mail a couple hours ago, whereupon I went to the library, promptly put it into my computer, and then basked in the warm glow of perfect pop harmonies and exquisite orchestration.
I have never heard an album so full of love as Eleven Modern Antiquities is. Not only in terms of the lyrical content of the songs, which run the gamut of sentimental subjects, from longing for that unattainable woman (“Here”) to the reminiscence of childhood pastimes (“At the Sea” and “Landsdowne Valley”), but whose lyrics are smart enough to keep them from ever being cloying. But when listening to the album, one can hear the love that went into making it. The Pugs were joined for this venture by a gaggle of pop luminaries, such as Dave Gregory and Andy Partridge of XTC, Jason Falkner of Jellyfish, and the Divine Neil Hannon. With that much awesome musical power, it’s kind of hard to put a foot wrong, but this was truly a group effort and to listen to them it is clear that they had a blast making the record. Each song is expertly crafted, of course, but also incredibly lively and playful. Lesser bands would not be able to successfully maintain a balance between orchestration and fun, but Pugwash fall into that magical realm occupied by their pals from XTC and The Divine Comedy, in which keeping that balance is a joy for both the musicians and the listeners.
There are so many wonderful songs on this record, and there are so many musical subtleties that take repeated listening to discover, that I’m finding it hard to pinpoint my favorite track on this album. So I won’t. Every song is a delight. Though because I’m biased I may favor slightly the songs to which Mr. Hannon lends his buttery vocals—”My Genius” (co-written by Andy Partridge) in particular. Ah! See? I did it.
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