My first reaction when listening to the new Pugwash album “Silverlake” was: Wow!!
After a few more listens, I liked it even better. So brace yourself for a volley of superlatives if you read on.
Many artists make a couple of inspired albums and then get lost when trying to figure out to what to do next. Thomas Walsh – who on many levels is the embodiment of Pugwash – does not have this problem. He just tries to do one thing, and that is to make The Perfect Pop Album In The Sky With Diamonds.
Hence, in an almost Zen-like way, his creativity seems always focused on how to get there, rather than wasted on thinking about where to go.
A band who famously set out to emulate pop perfected by giants was of course Badfinger. But whereas they suffered from – and ultimately were destroyed by – being in the shadow of the Beatles, Thomas Walsh uses his giants as shoulders to stand on.
Sometimes he focuses more on evoking his inner XTC; in other cases it could be his Kinks or his ELO. But rather than compete, he instead uses those giants of pop to channel inspiration.
As a result, there are opportunities for new angles and new ways for Thomas to challenge himself.
At least on “Sliverlake” that is definitely the case. Not only is he channeling his inner Jason Falkner; the new album is made as a duo with the man himself. While standing on Jason’s shoulders, he is employing the giant, lock stock and barrel.
The results really do sound fresh. To Thomas’ baritone, guitars and Mellotron, Jason is adding basically everything else – and that includes engineering, production and mixing.
But despite sprightly arrangements and a crisp production, this album is all about the songs. On my second day of listening, I was staying at a hotel and just put the album on through the tinny speaker on my iPhone. Normally, I would not stand listening that way, but with “Silverlake” the melodies just continue to shine regardless.
I would say this is the best Pugwash album since “Jollity”. It is that good!