Working under the name Voluntary Butler Scheme, one-man band Rob Jones makes quirky, sunny pop music that draws from everything fun that's happened in pop music since around 1962. Traces of Motown, Northern soul, bubblegum, C-86, pop both sunshine and chamber, and bedroom electronica run through his sound like little kids dashing through sprinklers on a warm evening, with Jones' heartfelt and innocent vocals keeping things grounded. While previous albums have all seen Jones treading quite near the edge of novelty at times, 2014's A Million Ways to Make Gold is a more thoughtful and mature album. Not in a boring way though, as Jones sill couches his emotions in quirky turns of phrase and the kind of razzmatazzy melodies that would make Harry Nilsson take notice. Every song on the album sports a giant hook -- some played on the horns Jones mastered by watching how-to videos on YouTube -- and a singalong chorus that will take hold of your brain and not let go until the next one comes along to shake it loose. In a different kind or world, "Honey in the Gravel Mixture" would be the massive number one single, then the sweetly romantic "Quinzhee" would follow it up to show the VBS' softer side. Really though, one could pick any track and be rewarded with smartly constructed, wittily played pop music that has a surprising emotional punch. So don't be fooled by the name, or the occasional song about brain freeze, or the occasional knees-up, because Jones is working through some real emotional stuff on A Million Ways to Make Gold and makes it sound like a gold record, massive sales be damned. Don't let this one pass you by if you are easily charmed by sweet, funny, tender pop music with the elastic snap of the best bubblegum. It's about the best around.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra