A fellow concertgoer once explained to me why the world needs Robyn Hitchcock. “Somebody has to write all those Robyn Hitchcock songs,” he insisted, an explanation that implies a necessity for songs about drag queens named Elvis, men with lightbulb craniums, and enough creepy crawlies to make your spray can of Raid seem a laughably inadequate arsenal. But often lost in the common perception of Hitchcock as a silver-haired, quirky singer-philosopher with questionable taste in button-down shirts are his adept ear for radiant melodies and willingness to boldly bear the stamp of his impeccable musical influences — traits that make Love from London welcome correspondence, even if the news isn’t particularly pleasant.
Hitchcock — whose paintings often double as album covers — has described his songs as “paintings you can listen to.” In that spirit, Love from London can be thought of as a gallery of bright watercolors with more portentous shades nestled in the background, or perhaps looming just off canvas. “Let the darkness fall upon you,” Hitchcock urges with jangly warmth on the pondering “Be Still”, the song’s ambivalence packaged so upliftingly that you almost forget about the likelihood of unpleasant outcomes. And that’s the tenor of Love from London: sounds of resounding celebration in the face of a rather bleak outlook.
Similarly, the overtly Lennon-esque “Love and Death” drifts along in a sweet haze that belies the chorus’s admission of “I’m a fool cuz I got screwed, ” soulfully crooned with a tenderness usually reserved for declarations of love and fidelity. “Now that you’re broke / Who’s gonna fix you?” Hitchcock playfully asks on standout “Fix You”, which pits the corporate rank and file against “financial backers who take calls with a strawberry mousse.” If Hitchcock showed up at your cubicle with this musical pink slip, you probably wouldn’t wipe the smile off your face until two weeks later when no paycheck arrived.
So, why does the world need Robyn Hitchcock? Well, without him, who would give us songs to boogie to while the world collapses around us?
Essential Tracks: “Be Still”, “Love and Death”, and “Fix You”