The flagship release on Joseph Arthur's own Lonely Astronaut label, Nuclear Daydream is a lushly produced and exquisitely delivered collection of 12 new songs, linked by his never-less-than florid eye for sometimes-'60s pop arrangements, and a lyricism that would put you in mind of a host of other performers, if you didn't know that the likes of Michael Stipe and Chris Martin are as influenced by Arthur as he is by them. The single "Too Much to Hide" opens the set on a blustering wall of symphonics; elsewhere, Nuclear Daydream aims for a more stripped-back approach, just Arthur's curiously vulnerable vocal against an acoustic guitar, or the sounds of a blues band, rehearsing in another room. Occasionally, it does get a little too calculated -- the half-falsetto that strains through "Slide Away" puts one in mind of the preposterous squawking that Mick Jagger layered through the Stones' "Emotional Rescue." But the stark "Electrical Storm" and the raw "When I Was Running out of Time" celebrate Arthur at his very finest, while the closing title track has a Dylan-ish edge that also turns the cycle full-circle. Without it ever deliberately going for the jugular, Nuclear Daydream is nevertheless an album that is difficult to shake out of your ears; moreover, it's one that only grows stronger with every repeated play. With that in mind, it's too early to proclaim it Arthur's best ever effort. But it's certainly one of the year's most compulsive.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson