Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians

Perspex Island

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Although a lot of longtime Robyn Hitchcock fans turned up their noses at 1991's Perspex Island, due to Paul Fox' slick production and the fact that it contains Hitchcock's biggest U.S. hit to date (the uncharacteristically bubblegummy "So You Think You're in Love," a song old enough that the Soft Boys had actually recorded a demo of it back in the '70s), the record doesn't deserve its bad reputation. (Perhaps coming after the stripped-down solo acoustic album Eye, Perspex Island seemed like a cynical bid for mainstream attention, a charge the songs don't support.) Fox' glossy sound doesn't obscure the typically high quality of Hitchcock's songs, and there are times, as on the churning opener "Oceanside" and the dreamy psych-pop "Birds in Perspex," where the two complement each other perfectly. Not everything works -- "Nail It Down," other than the brief Beach Boys pastiche on the bridge, is entirely undistinguished -- but Perspex Island is a much better record than its reputation might suggest.

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