This is a fabulous LP, one bookended by a nice pair of piano instrumentals; (reminding this old git of Robyn Hitchcock’s I Often Dream of Trains), and chockfull of great, intelligent pop.
This intelligence is made manifest in the very appealing nature of Pollock’s vocal delivery: it’s crystal clear and beautifully articulated, which is a rarity these days. Hug the Harbour is a case in point. Plonking words like ‘precision’, indecision, reprimand and liability in songs can lead to disaster, but somehow the vocals skip over these hurdles. House On The Hill is another fine example of making words and phrasing work in a song. The music’s tougher than I expected too, drums thump, arrangements seem to go from quiet to loud with alacrity and there’s enough guitar inhere to make the music appealingly spiky overall. As well as Hug the Harbour, I Could Be A Saint and Red Orange Green are an melancholy pop song of sorts, but with enough sand in the Vaseline to make them stand on their own feet.
Yes there are dreamy moments, but they have a rugged charm and biting observatory nature about them, Nine Lives is a chirpy song nodding to cabaret and Scott Walker’s Jean the Machine in equal measure. Letters To Strangers and The Loop seem to reveal more sinister agendas than their appealing melodies would suggest. The Child In Me is a particularly effective song too, drawing on a bucolic feel, but witty enough to avoid being self-reverential. I was dreading girly pop, but this is harder stuff, so to speak.
This is classic pop record in a fine and noble Scots tradition. Especially with splendid tracks like Confessions, invoking the Roddy’s and Edwyn’s of this world. Think Hope & Despair, or Ballad of The Book, you really can’t go wrong.