Sometimes it’s just nice to discover an act that you weren’t expecting. I first encountered the name of Pugwash when I stumbled across footage of Pugwash main man Thomas Walsh fronting Matt Berry and his backing band to deliver a storming version of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”, but it took my longer than might have been considered usual for me to realise that Walsh was the half of The Duckworth Lewis Method that wasn’t Neil Hannon. Having realised this, I procured both Duckworth Lewis Method albums and thoroughly enjoyed them, and already being familiar with Hannon’s work, only became more intrigued by Thomas Walsh and Pugwash.
Thing is, Pugwash are one of those bands whose music you don’t tend to find on the shelves of your local music retailer, unless you have a decent second hand store and you fall very lucky indeed. It’s less than 9 months since the release their last album (Silverlake), but not even that is available in the main HMV in the middle of Sheffield (sort it out HMV, Sheffield is one of the biggest cities in the UK!). Second hand online retail is therefore often the only way to go, and even when you do that, you realise that some of their releases demand a significant premium (someone somewhere is making a killing on back catalogue Pugwash albums, and I’m pretty damn sure that it isn’t Mr Walsh).
Play This Intimately (As if Among Friends) is one of the few Pugwash albums that you have half a chance of tracking down and not have to think twice about going to the pub that week. Originally released in 2015, and recorded in the much loved Konk Studios, it’s a shamelessly enjoyable guitar pop album. Sophisticated without being smothered in production Play This Intimately (As if Among Friends) makes no attempt to be a snarling rock beast, but is a mature, well considered album that rewards repeated listens. It’s an album that engages the soul and brain rather than one that makes you want to leap up on the sofa, and you know something, I’m 40 in the next few weeks, so my sofa leaping days are over (besides, I’d never again be able to afford such a quality piece of furniture if anything unfortunate were to happen).
Play This Intimately (As if Among Friends) is not the most immediate release, but it is one that warms the soul as you become more and more familiar with it. Walsh is a sweet voiced dude with a firm grasp of pop dynamics, and tunes like “The Fool I Had Become” and “Feed His Heart With Coal” have slowly burrowed themselves into my subconsciousness since I acquired this album.
Pugwash are a band that deserve the cross over hit to catch the attention of the wider public, however even if Walsh doesn’t achieve that, I for one will be more than pleased if he can just keep making albums as solid and lovable as Play This Intimately (As if Among Friends).