Personnel: Bill Pritchard (vocals, guitar, piano); Mike Rhead (guitar, banjo, background vocals); Tim Bradshaw (guitar, keyboards, background vocals); Pierre-Marie Humeau (trumpet, flugelhorn); Vincent Aubert (trombone, bass trombone); Liam Bradley (drums, percussion); Alice Pritchard (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Roo Pigott; Tim Bradshaw.
Recording information: Aubee Rd, Deauville; The Lakeside Lodge, Burslem; The Seclusary, Donegal.
Photographer: Mike Rhead.
Another unassuming treasure of a record from the mercurial English singer/songwriter, Mother Town Hall is a Victorian jangle pop horn of plenty, spilling over with wit, warmth, and timeless melodies. Listeners who were charmed by 2014's A Trip to the Coast will find much of the same here, as Pritchard continues to mine both Tin Pan Alley and Swinging London for the purest pop nuggets he can dig up. The resplendent "Saturn and Co." sets the stage with a narrative concerning a typically idiosyncratic, Pritchard-ian protagonist who may or may not be someone worth knowing. It's a familiar theme that's lent gravitas by a sneaky light/dark melody and Pritchard's distinctive voice, which falls somewhere between Luke Haines (Auteurs), Robyn Hitchcock, and John Southworth. Parts of the record, specifically the brass sections, were tracked in Northern France, and that Gallic influence sneaks its way into standout cuts like "Mont St. Michel," "Déjà Vu Boutique," and the Creole-kissed "Vampire from New York." Still, Mother Town Hall is unabashedly English and festooned with all of the fixings. The near liquid, tube vibrato/tremolo-led soft rock gem "My First Friendship" invokes Gilbert O'Sullivan by way of Richard Hawley, the like-minded and aptly named "September Haze" suggests a fondness for the Clientele (or vice-versa), and the sprightly and cocksure "Victorious" proves that Pritchard's penchant for chamber pop finery, much like Ray Davies', can coexist peacefully with working class swagger. With two albums released within two years of each other, and another apparently in the can, Pritchard seems to have left his wilderness years behind, and pop fans, of both the cult and mainstream varieties, are all the better for it. ~ James Christopher Monger