“Down the Bright Stream”
(Shadrack & Duxbury Records)
For his 10th studio album, Vinny Peculiar (aka Alan Wilkes) flows “Down The Bright Stream” of life, reflecting on things of the past, set in his homeland of Manchester, England. Aural moods and lyrical whimsy paint an interesting picture through his eyes. The “hit” single on the record is the playful, melodic “English Village,” which thematically resembles The Kinks’ 1966 track, “Village Green.” American blues, gospel and slow country vibes mingle with decidedly Brit-pop glory on “Catalogue Trousers.” The defiant anthem “I Only Stole What I Needed” possesses the same sort of instantly appealing melody that his previously popular “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend” displayed. The upbeat, extraordinarily quirky “Antony Gormley” reminds me of the more cabaret side of Deaf School, a 1970s Liverpool art rock meets new wave group. Wilkes’ storytelling genius shines on the groovy “Girl at the Bar” and his poetic prowess fits like a glove within “The Doo Kum Inn.” The appropriately titled “The Saddest Summer of Samuel S” is likely the most melancholy song he’s ever penned. The stellar “Egocentric Man” is full of psychedelic flare, taking narcissism for a musical flight aboard a Pink Floyd-esque spaceship. “The King of Pop is Dead” is less a tribute, but more an observation of the untimely death of Michael Jackson.
Another brilliant outing for the under-exposed Vinny Peculiar. – Jeff Maisey