The new album from Mr. Husband, Plaid On Plaid, is a special record. It's the sort of thing that deserves far more attention than it's liable to get. I'm here to add my voice to the (hopefully) growing chorus of people writing (and raving) about this release which drops on Yellow K Records on Friday.
Mr. Husband is Kenny Tompkins. He makes music that is, for lack of an easy comparison, similar to what's been done by acts like Plush and Mild High Club. However, that said, the tunes here are remarkably sharp and all quite beautiful. If "Cookie Pie" saunters by like a weird, lost Left Banke number, the sublime "Only A Fool" imagines a sort of more Lennon-besotted solo Lindsey Buckingham solo release. "Shake That Dream" works up to a faster rhythm, even as the gentle "Champagne Bossernova" charms like some weird mix of early Aztec Camera and Kevin Ayers, perhaps. The very best material here, like the lead track "Riding A Lightning Bolt", is so simple and yet so refreshingly tuneful and melodic that I instantly became a fan of this band. Less direct and poppy than the early Badly Drawn Boy stuff, for example, the cuts here seem casual and easily tossed off even as they remain sharply composed little gems. There's something disarmingly simple here that recalls, in some eerie-but-delightful way, Chris Bell solo songs ("Love Don't Worry"), or even classics from the Elliott Smith back catalog ("Can't Sleep").
Unaffected, charming, and wildly melodic, Plaid On Plaid is one of this Spring's best releases and it surely deserves all the critical praise it's likely to receive with time. The album is out on Friday via Yellow K Records, and you can get more details on Mr. Husband there too.
[Photo: Uncredited label photo]