Pop Geek Heaven is the new website from Bruce Brodeen of NotLame.com (the original and sadly now defunct PowerPop site / shop). PGH is a community led site and once you’re registered you get a bundle of reviews, interviews and free stuff from the PowerPop world (and beyond!). Anyway this is the review from Mike Baron that’s just been uploaded to the site; enjoy –
“CAPTAIN WILBERFORCE: Ghost Written Confessions (Blue Tuxedo)
Sweepingly romantic mini-suites bursting with melody, one of those records that reveals fresh details on each listen. Simon Bristoll, who wrote, sings and performs is ably assisted by cellist Sophie Wright, trumpeter Jon Scully and ‘bonist Rob Paul Chapman. The rest of the ensemble is stellar too, but the unusual instrumentation helps to elevate these songs above the mundane. Imagine a style midway between Fairport Convention and XTC.
“In Hell” contains traces of flamenco guitar and a surging, locomotive-like refrain. Bristoll’s singing is clear and effective. “Your Imaginary Friends” has the crystalline clarity of a Gregorean chant recorded in a cathedral. Acoustic guitar and cello contribute to the 18th century drawing room ambience. “Get Hurt” with its surging beat and gleaming vibraphone recalls the glory of Motown but the melody and lyrics are infused with Brit wit and no one would mistake Bristoll’s almost perfect pop voice with Smokey’s almost perfect pop voice.
“The Day Your Mouth Stood Still” has a surging pop melody reminiscent of a thousand bands none of which I can name. Wilberforce infuses “Baby Girl” with the same swooning melodic beauty, especially on the elegant horn bridge. “Los Angeles” begins as madrigal, picks up speed turning into a sleek low-rider love/hate ode with big air guitar. “Me and Your Mother” snags you with an insidious guitar figure before flowing into the melody on cello strings. As in most of his comps, Captain makes room for delicate chamber music and rock stage bombast. A neat trick. “This Little Miracle,” another unforgettable haunting melody. Each of these songs is densely emotional, none moreso than “She’s My Kryptonite,” the last song on the album, which starts, “You stupid bastard.” He backs into what the song is really about, love, of course, with another exquisitely molded main theme. The song ingeniously incorporates the melody of “Heart and Soul”.
Four and a half stars