There seems to be something of a city-based theme running through Robyn Hitchcock’s recent work. His previous release was a paean to Oslo, specifically its bizarre Vigeland sculpture park; the title of his latest album explains the urban connection. Yet whereas the songs on Tromsø Kaptein – particularly the title track – were suffused with doomy Nordic sensibility and imagery, Love From London does little more than mention a few landmarks such as Primrose Hill and Telecom Tower.
Of course, this being Robyn, there’s every chance that the references to pterodactyls hanging in the sky are actually part of a prehistoric mystery tour and the whole thing is a vision of the shifted reality that, Torchwood-like, lives around every corner of olde London towne; or a commentary on the economic situation and impending ecological catastrophe.
But whatever underlies the lyrics, this is a classy collection of tracks that sit together very comfortably. Unmistakeably the work of their maker, all 10 songs are solidly structured, beautifully arranged and played, captured with clarity and attention to detail. There’s no instant standout, but the album both withstands and repays repeated listening – by the second time through you’ll be picking up all sorts of sonic and lyrical references to popular music of the last 25 years. Not canonical, but a classic.