I often wonder if there is an unwritten rule where the more words you have in the title for an album, the more varied the music has to be. It acts as a type of code for the buying public. For every ‘Revolver’, ‘Rumours’ or ‘Nevermind’, there is a ‘Songs in the Key of Life’, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Automatic For the People’ where the songs attempt to move off into other areas.
If so, the new album from Echo Park Orchestra has followed the rule to the letter because even though it even has the word absurd in the title, it’s blooming bonkers in places, refusing to sit still and be categorised. Which, I’m happy to say, is its strongest attribute.
We drift from dark folk on ‘Dog in a Manger’ to social commentary ‘Flat Earth Army’, to Samba-infused ‘House of Bamboo’ to old-style Hollywood era ‘Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor’ to cleverly double bluffed ‘This is NOT a Waltz’ before we hit a superb instrumental in ‘Isle of Capri’ and then touch down on the disarming ‘One Note Samba’.
Bonkers and, like the title suggest, absurd.
To be able to handle this many influences and to deliver them so well comes down to the skill of the songwriting and musicians here, the album could have so easily been a mock-up of almosts, when, in fact, each song hits their mark and it is a fun album to listen to. My stand-out track is the wonderful ‘Isle of Capri’, it feels as if the song was created in the musical equivalent of a garden shed with things being pulled off the shelf to add to the mix, but the result is great.
There is humour in the lyrics (“he was the Russian with the psychic power, to stop the Trans Siberian train, stood in the middle of the track, now he’s in the Ukraine!”) like the old 60’s song Lilly The Pink, but this adds to the likeability of it all, this is music played for fun, but never skimps on quality.