Bill Pritchard - Mother Town Hall (Tapete Records)

Bill Pritchard – Mother Town Hall (Tapete Records)

There are an awful lot of artists who claim not to read any of their reviews, whereas the truth is that that most of them probably peek through sweaty, trembling fingers in nervous anticipation. When, however, Mother Town Hall collaborator Tim Bradshaw says such a thing about Bill Pritchard, you are inclined to believe him. Pritchard, it seems, really COULDN’T actually give a shit. This all makes for a fascinating listen, as he continues to do what he’s best at: clearly he is making music, first and foremost, to please himself, rather than pandering to any perceived fanbase. Happily for us, it’s all pleasantly alluring.

Several of the songs on Mother Town Hall could be described as a gentler version of The Monochrome Set, but with arrangements evocative of Darren Hayman, and sometimes with a broader classic pop bent that runs the gamut between Gilbert O’Sullivan and They Might Be Giants. If such a gamut does indeed exist, anyway.

On ‘Heaven‘, a pretty little country tinged number, both instrumentation and composition recall Rattlesnakes era Commotions, while ‘Victorious‘ shuffles along confidently without really ever settling anywhere in particular. ‘Vampire From New York‘ is probably the pick of the bunch, pure Burt Bacharach pretensions and filled with lyrics of cryptic romanticism: “She still looks great, vamps and shimmers about / the years have really suited you / and looking back, like we all do / I was last in a very short queue“. It seems to be quite a recurring theme here for the prose to seethe quietly, emitting a curious stench of poetic injustice. And if all that sounds a little confusing, join the club; I have no idea what he’s going on about, for the most part.

There isn’t really any obvious clue as to why Pritchard is closer to being a household name in France, of all places, than anywhere else in the world, his music having practically nothing in common with any of the country’s most revered pioneers, nor featuring even the slightest smidgeon of cheesy Europop. No, perhaps it is easier to surmise why, despite fairly widespread critical acclaim, the general public remain acutely indifferent to – or unaware of – his existence. That one’s easy – it’s his voice. Many of Pritchard’s songs are quite beautiful, but that nasal intonation, like Dylan learning to speak the queen’s English with a severely blocked nose after a custard eating contest, takes a fair bit of getting used to.

It’s been eight years since the man’s last album release, A Trip To The Coast, but Mother Town Hall proves he still has all his faculties intact and that the songs he was crafting in the interim were worth the effort. In a satisfying, if not exactly startling manner.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.