Record Review 

On Spooked, Robyn Hitchcock allows his off-beat metaphors to be the palette for a colorful lyrical tapestry. The album recalls the Mountain Goats and John Darnielle in its literate complexity and strength. Like his best solo album, Eye, the simplicity of Spooked's musical arrangements pushes the words to the fore, spotlighting Hitchcock's cockeyed romanticism.

Helping Hitchcock on the album are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. (Hitchcock even duets with Welch on the blues-gospel number "Demons & Friends.") Throughout the set, Welch and Rawlings offer a visceral, rustic backing for Hitchcock's gentle British croon and otherworldly subjects. Whether contemplating the devil's fish-bowl eyes on the late-night lullaby "Television," or promising "I'll bring you fat juicy worms" on the delta-blues rave-up, "We're Gonna Live in the Trees," Hitchcock fashions a bizarre world that bears a strange resemblance to our own.

-- Chris Parker
Robyn Hitchcock plays Smith's Olde Bar Sunday, Oct. 31.

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