"If You Don't Love Yourself....What's the Use in Someone Els
! Metamorpho ;) | Castle in Scotland | 02/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know people. I don't know what I can say about listening to this album and have you TRULY understand what it's all about. With Robyn Hitchcock, I believe firmly in my soul (and with help from the illustrious barbershop quartet of guides I have at my disposal) that you have to be exposed to a certain amount of life's absurdities in order to appreciate him. You see, it is also my own belief that Robyn is a praying mantis in human form and, as such, one must tread lightly with criticism. I truly enjoy his artistry because while we may look at pop music like it was neo-classical art, Robyn decides to throw us many curves, putting 3 eyes and 2 noses on our vision like a left field Picasso! To categorize him is to confine him and we all know by now that Robyn Hitchcock can, at any time, slip away in to his own reality, frustrating us in our efforts to understand. But, with that being said, I can feebly attempt to tell you what I think is going on, not that it matters in the least. But, on a sensual level we all know one thing, and it's the music that counts. First off, Perspex Island owes alot to the Beatles. The musical influences are amazing and, many times throughout, I can see the influences of Revolver and the White Album, Robyn did not really get into the wizardry of Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, preferring to rely on affect rather than effect. Robyn sets the tone of the album like a black comedy, losing out on love but always coveying the absurdity of that while wearing his Mad Hatter's hat. Or is it Cat in the Hat? With Robyn, you never know. The songs presented here are rock solid pop with fresh. interesting construction. All of it will remind you of something you've heard before, however, there is no copying here. Robyn takes the influences, cuts them into thousands of snippets, and crazy glues them back together forming rich, interesting, pleasurable pop. This is not to say that Mr. Hitchcock relates sunny days throughout. His doubts are clearly visible in "So You Think You're In Love", avoiding the grim reaper with humor and a toll free number in "Vegetation and Dimes", and musing about his own absurd actions on trying to get a lost love back by using voodoo in the semi-tragic "She Doesn't Exist". Not to say that Robyn cannot convey true revelations and, yes, sometimes joy in Perspex with tunes like "Ultra Unbelievable Love" and "Ride". The title of this review reflects lyrics in "Ride" and, it is easy to see. that on a pop album Robyn is not above pop psychology. But this only adds to his charm in my opinion. Metamorpho took an immediate liking to Robyn Hitchcock, probably because of the quirky way he looked at life and the creativity of a distorted mind. He is his own artist, not a cookie cutter persona, and the world sorely needs people who are different and unique. I wholeheartedly recommend this to people who need a new twist on pop/rock and don't mind being reminded of the late 60's. As an aside, Metamorpho had the chance to listen to Robyn as he gave a free recital at a small music store in Philadelphia some years ago. Just him and his guitar playing for a tiny crowd. Wonderful and intimate. But, while there, I noticed his eyes. They were bug-like and big and I thought= AHA! No wonder he writes like he does - those praying mantis eyes are forever taking in more and more information to that amazingly wired cranium of his. It was easy to understand. However, be forewarned; if you are really going to get any of this, you must twist your own mind and vision a bit. Robyn has already done this -- now it's your turn. Metamorpho thanks all who made this review possible. Let me clarify the rating. I gave it 4 and 1/2 stars. Unfortunately Amazon doesn't care about the needs of Metamorpho (which isn't terribly unfair because, sometimes, even Metamorpho doesn't care about his own needs!) but, it would be nice if there were half stars. But, Metamorpho will not allow himself to be tortured by all this. No. He will, though, suggest Perspex Island for the quirky of mind and the very curious. In closing, it has been mirth and fun. Wishing joyful sounds to all. Your humble servant and musical confidant ---Metamorpho (pet name "Morphy" !)."
Prime Hitchcock & the Egyptians
Garry Messick | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 03/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robyn has called this his Beatles record, I guess because it's probably his most consistently melodic and lyrically straightforward album. Lot's of good stuff. The irresistable "So You Think You're in Love" and "Ultra Unbelievable Love" are catchy pop worthy of the Fab Four themselves, the sort of things that would have been huge hit singles in a better world, "Oceanside" is a churning, dramatic rush of a tune, "Birds in Perspex" is just beautiful, particularly the layered, Beach Boys-like coda, "Ride" is Robyn in prime Lennonesque mode, "She Doesn't Exist" is very pretty and very sad. For my money, one his best."
A cool, polished gem that gets overlooked...
Todd Hagley | Decatur, GA | 01/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perspex Island marked a huge step in Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians' move from (at least in the U.S.) college radio act to major label players. Following the modest success of Globe of Frogs, it seemed that one more gleeming studio album with heavy promo duty would put the band over the top, so to speak. By this time, the warm friendship with REM was paying off in unintended ways; the band were invited to open on the US dates of the massive Green tour, which undoubtedly exposed them to a wider audience, but not necessarily the right audience for Robyn and company.
With Perspex Island, a much more focused pop sound was crafted and despite some reviewers finding fault, much of the songwriting is stronger than previous albums. To put it more concisely, this is one of those albums you either love or hate.
And for those who love it, it's a rewarding listen; layers of harmonies bounce off sharp drum beats while a 12 string Rickenbacker weaves over Andy Metcalfe's rich, fluid bass lines. Like many of the Egyptians' albums, this is an excellent headphone album to enjoy the more subtle backing arrangements, such as a guesting mandolin courtesy of Peter Buck.
For those who loathe the album, it's the usual suspect; Robyn's lyrical obsessions and turn of phrase. It's an acquired taste, sure, but there's quite a bit of it on this album. While I don't mind that as much, I can see a more casual fan becoming bored rather quickly.
Robyn dug deep into his emotion handbag and pulled out a brace of peppy (whisper it) love songs with "So You Think You're in Love" and "Ultra Unbelieveable Love", the former however a remnant from the days of the Soft Boys (check the linear notes from Can of Bees if you don't believe me). Who could blame Robyn? His relationship with Cynthia Hunt was in full form and undoubtedly his creative muse was stirred. During an interview on MTV's "120 minutes" during the album's heavy media blitz, Robyn observed that he "hopped off the train and ran home to write 20 songs" when the album was in prepreduction.
As another reviewer commented, this is as "Beatle-y" as the Egyptians ever got, and for a man with as a healthy Lennon fixation as Robyn's, that's saying a lot. A heavy debt is owed to the Byrds and Dylan as well, but you already knew that.
Not their strongest work, but certainly an important one, as this was about as close as the band came to making the big time in America. Perhaps it was the curse of too-much association with REM, but like Big Star, or the Velvet Underground, some of the most brilliant bands can't translate into huge success. You really couldn't picture them waving from the tarmac at JFK airport to hoards of screaming girls, now could you?
If you're just getting started with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, this wouldn't be the best place to start. I'd advise "Fegmania" (natch) and "Gotta Let This Hen Out" before approaching this one. Still, it's one of my favorites from the early 90's.
Betsy Stephens | Acworth, GA United States | 10/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perspex Island is one of my top ten favorite albums. I have a few of his other stuff, but prefer this one. It is one of those albums that makes me feel calm and happy when I listen to it. I know all the words on this album and have listened to it over and over for the past nine years. I finally have to replace it after all that time. Not only could I just envelop myself in the music, but I find his words sometimes profound and sometimes laugh out loud funny ("There are no jokes in the bible!"). This album isn't as fun as "Balloon Man" but is a better album than "Globe of Frogs". In addition to being one of my favorite albums, it makes me nostalgic and happy. It doesn't give me a headache (I must be getting old) and the lyrics are intelligent. So to summarize, this album makes me happy (have I said that enough?). I know I've rambled, but I love this album and can't explain succinctly WHY I love it..."