There is a dream-like quality about the opening songs on Irish pop-rock evangelists Pugwash’s new album, Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends). The first six tracks have a pleasing and enveloping mellifluence that functions as an effective panacea for the ills of the modern (pop) world. Mid-tempo numbers like “Kicking and Screaming” and “Lucky In Every Way” will bear the familiar hallmarks of the Pugwah oeuvre – a comfortable rhythm, note-perfect harmonies, sympathetic guitar patterns and memorable singalong tunes. “Feed His Heart With Coal” has a clever train motif running through the track which recalls the work of XTC whilst “Just So You Know” is a brilliant ballad laced with spy movie themes.
The rockabilly ditty “You Could Always Cry” is the one concession to a heightened tempo and “Hung Myself Out To Dry” possesses a feisty McCartney-esque music hall jaunt (with a chorus melody Macca himself would be proud to call his own!).
But when “Silly Love” slows down the pace once more, it feels… right. There is a sense of ease that is hypnotic and mesmerising.“All the Way From Love” will no doubt entrance Roy Orbison lovers with its wondrous channeling of the Big O and “We Are Everywhere” is a slow burning Beatlesque psychedelic pop ballad that delivers an appropriate ending.
Recorded at The Kink’s Konk studios, this new album is everything Pugwash fans would expect from their heroes and much more. With the band’s own heroes Ray Davies (The Kinks), Andy Partridge (XTC) and ELO’s Jeff Lynne guesting on a couple tracks — not to mention The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon on keyboards — there is a genuine feeling that all is right with the world.
It all makes sense – this is as close as you can get to pop perfection in 2015.