Hobotalk: Alone Again Or (Glitterhouse)

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Hobotalk: Rise
Hobotalk: Alone Again Or (Glitterhouse)

The previous album by Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Pilley who, with friends, is Hobotalk was the beguiling and understated Homesick For Nowhere which appeared at Elsewhere (and nowhere else in New Zealand that I saw) and followed the debut Beauty in Madness which had been nominated for Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize.

Add in that this new one comes through the very smart Glitterhouse label and that it takes its title (courageously perhaps) from a classic song by Essential Elsewhere favourites Love, and you have quite a number of reasons to be interested.

And it doesn't disappoint: whether it be the melodically simple and delightful folk-pop protest of Naked in the Afternoon; the chamber-pop of the string supported Under the Spell of Love; the tense Bring Down the Moon underpined by simple but urgent drums and a coiling, repeated guitar figure . . .

But those gems (and others) are in the second sometimes Dylanesque half of the album entitled "The Acoustic Morn". The more interesting half -- melodically, in arrangements and a sense of daring -- comes in the first half, "The Electric Night", where Hobotalk push the parameters.

It opens with the pure eco-pop of Mother Creation Cries (which melodically could have slid off one of the better Tim Finn albums) but that's just the canny hook to get you into the more edgy material: the gentle thump'n'electro-whump of Love is Hard To Do (early Dylan with a twist and some brittle guitar) then the vaguely bluesy Rise and into the brief and deconstructed Hobo Chang Ha which with its Captain Beefheart noise-merchant quality is a long way from anything else here. I guess the original title was Hobotalk Changing Hats but lost something along the way?

White Rabbits in the Snow -- with Sixties Jefferson Airplane/Country Joe organ -- closes this end off with a simple but haunting piece sung from a distance and increasingly layered with noise and instrumentation. Simple but effective.  

On the release of the last Hobotalk album I suggested they might go past most people (unfortunately I wasn't wrong) and I fear the same for this one: it is smart, appealing, makes perfectly good folk-pop sense -- but does shout about itself by flicking radio singles or come with a singer-songwriter prone to making attention-grabbing headlines.

It might not make the Best of Elsewhere, but has certainly been commanding repeat-play.


Because there is no new video for a track from this album I've posted an older one just to give you a taste of Hobotalk. Use the link to flick back to the earlier album too. 

 

 

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