Seems Josh Rouse isn’t one for staying still, with the follow up to 2015’s The Embers of Time promising that he has embraced the likes of The Blue Nile, The Style Council and Prefab Sprout, rather than the indie/americana of his previous work.
As it turns out, Rouse makes good on his promises for the most part, and you can add in a fair old dollop of Scritti Politti, and Rumours era Fleetwood Mac into the mix as well. He throws in some good old 80s touches (non-ironic of course, as the press release is keen to point out) with Sax, handclaps, reverbed guitar, backing vocals and keys giving the record this retro, new romantic feel.
Though the record isn’t maybe what was expected, there’s the unmistakable whiff of Josh Rouse permeating all of it, with his earnest and confessional lyrics, mixed in with the sense of melody that has brought his plaudits over the previous eleven albums. The melancholy of the beginning of the album, including the most obvious reference to Prefab Sprout on Ordinary People, Ordinary Lives, gives way to the dreamy title track, where Rouse’s words ‘This ones for the lovers, this ones for the girl (etc, you get the idea)’ have surely been uttered by Green Gartside.
From there, the woozy guitars of Businessman and the charm and simplicity of Tropic Moon give way to two songs up there with anything he has producd in ‘I’m your man’ and the rather brilliantly effervescent ‘Higs ad Kisses’ before things wind down with the arid, cracked guitars of album closer There was a time, which nestles itself neatly next to Father John Misty.
It might be a left turn from Josh Rouse, but it’s still him and it’s a rather lovely, scenic left turn.