(Hype City Recordings)
After nearly four decades in the music industry, Robyn Hitchcock has never quite received the acclaim that he deserves. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from being prolific, releasing music akin to Bob Dylan’s with vocals that are eerily reminiscent of John Lennon. His latest offering, Tromsø, Kaptein, is not only named after a Norwegian city but has been released through a Norwegian label. If nothing else, this is a sure sign of an artist working on his own terms.
Certainly there are elements of the country embedded in the album’s ten tracks. There’s a focus on the pervasive nature of weather and setting, even if the songs aren’t necessarily about Norway. “Raining Twilight Coast,” for instance, is a beautiful, delicate rendering of an older Hitchcock tune. “Dismal City” sounds quintessentially Britpop, employing a Kinks-like melody as Hitchcock runs through lines such as “I feel okay when skies are gray.” “Godnatt Oslo,” as the title implies, is the Norwegian version of “Goodnight Oslo,” featured on Hitchcock’s last record with The Venus 3.
Tromsø, Kaptein has a timeless sound to it, as though it could have been released decades ago rather than today. These songs are built to last and to handle the change of harsh seasons and climates. Hitchcock’s music has the durability that can only come from an artist who has spent decades honing his craft for the love of expression.