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Josh Pyke - Memories And Dust

Josh Pyke, Memories & Dust

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

JOSH Pyke found overwhelming success in Australia thanks to the success of Middle Of The Hill, a personal song about growing up that captured the public’s imagination.

Needless to say, the album that followed – Memories And Dust – enjoyed similar acclaim in his home country. And it deserves to find a similarly wide audience in the UK given the immense quality of the long-player.

Pyke specialises in songs that are timeless, emotional and emphatically honest. He writes about what he knows – whether that’s childhood memories, feelings of love and longing, or even sewing. But then he makes no apology for the themes, believing that all of his writing is sewn together following a basic set of principles about structure and narrative.

It looks to be a winning formula for success. Memories & Dust is the sort of album that hooks you from the beginning and just keeps getting better.

It was co-produced by the much-lauded Wayne Connolly (The Vines) and Josh himself, and mixed in part by Connolly in Sydney and in part by Michael Brauer (The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket) in New York.

Middle Of The Hill is one of several firm highlights – “a totally true story” about growing up with Pyke’s sisters and family that includes such choice memories as “I still remember where I cracked my head” and “the girl down the street said her dog couldn’t bark because the man with an axe cut its voice box out”. The acoustic guitar work is extremely vibrant, the vocal delivery spot on and the honesty endearing (“I don’t pay enough attention to the good things when I’ve got them”).

But that high level of quality is pretty much maintained throughout. Mannequins thrives on a classic rock electric guitar intro that gives way into the sort of breezy stroke playing that’s formed the basis for countless REM hits, while title track Memories & Dust is sure to appeal to anyone that’s ever been impressed by a Zack Braff soundtrack, or the work of US acts like The Shins.

Throughout, Pyke relies on a more traditional structure. His songs tell stories – whether happy or sad – and they’re all worth listening to.

Sew My Name, for instance, is a beautiful song about love and longing that’s simply breathtaking. It’s simple guitar riff is both melancholy and endearing, while the lyrics (“I’m always thinking about you”) take on a classic heartbreak quality. It’s the sort of track you’ll keep coming back to.

Buttons is a similarly enchanting song – which draws on the theme of sewing yet again – while there’s a distinct Simon & Garfunkel quality surrounding Beg Your Pardon, which finds Pyke’s vocals echoing those of Paul Simon.

We could continue raving – Someone Else’s Town is another slow-burning gem about feeling isolated and alone, Private Education is suitably rousing and Monkey With A Drum brings things to a close in beautifully layered, thought-provoking fashion – but we just think you should go out there, buy it and discover the magic for yourselves.

Josh Pyke has arrived and Memories & Dust is an album to savour.

Download picks: Middle of the Hill, Someone Else’s Town, Sew My Name, Beg Your Pardon, Monkey With A Drum, Buttons, Memories & Dust

Track listing:

  1. Lines On Palms
  2. Memories & Dust
  3. Middle Of The Hill
  4. Mannequins
  5. Someone Else’s Town
  6. Private Education
  7. Sew My Name
  8. Buttons
  9. Beg Your Pardon
  10. Vibrations In The Air
  11. Monkey With A Drum