Pugwash Pugwash… Pi-rate them very highly indeed

5 great Pugwash songs

Published on August 29th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

To celebrate our interview with The Duckworth Lewis Method, Rocksucker has gone trawling back through the archives of constituent duo Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh to bring you five great songs apiece from their respective ongoing projects, The Divine Comedy and Pugwash.

This round belongs to Mr Walsh (aka Duckworth), who along with Joey Fitzgerald (drums), Tosh Flood (guitar) and Shaun McGee (bass) makes Pugwash one of the great modern standard bearers of what we like to call ‘perfect world’ pop music…

“Fall Down” (from 2012 album The Olympus Sound)

A heart-meltingly sublime showcase of Pugwash’s way with thrusting their impeccable influences headfirst into a beauty all of their own.

That harmonised lead guitar motif is the rosiest kind of rosy, the verse and pre-chorus like one of those mid-period Beatles songs that could have you weeping with joy at your most vulnerable/tipsy…and then it all takes a seamless left turn into stately psych-pop for a chorus that somehow manages to feel summery and wintry all at once.

One of those songs that will burrow its way into your DNA and become a recurring symptom of your experience of life on Earth. It’s that good.

“To the Warmth of You” (from 2012 album The Olympus Sound)

“Seasons pass faster than fruit flies / Decades dissolving like Solpadine” observes Walsh in that syrupy voice nature gifted him as a precursory consolation for making life go by so gosh darn quickly.

Nature is intrinsic to this one; the elegantly dancing melody weaves a lysergic tapestry depicting some kind of magical secret garden that suddenly falls away, like autumn leaves in fast forward motion, for a staggeringly mournful chorus.

See, you just don’t get that with Kings of Leon.

“To the Warmth of You” and “Fall Down” appear consecutively on the album’s running order and are immediately followed by a number entitled “Be My Friend a While” that quite possibly trumps them both…basically, joys abound on The Olympus Sound.

If you’re yet to do so, get it in your life and just let it infuse, for that’s what it does.

“At the Sea” (from 2008 album Eleven Modern Antiquities)

People sometimes say things like “that much fun should be illegal”. Well, *this* much fun – as in that served up by Pugwash single “At the Sea” and its accompanying video – should be jolly well compulsory, on the curriculum even.

Co-written with XTC legend Andy Partridge, “At the Sea” makes a convincing case for more regular applications of kazoo to pop song, a suggestion Pugwash heeded themselves on The Olympus Sound opener “Answers on a Postcard”.

“Clothes are discarded everywhere, wrappers and sweets / Sandwiches reek of egg and cheese, permanently at the sea”…it’s the ideal antidote to “hey sexy chica” Pitbull-style continental beach nonsense, for want of a snappier summarisation.

“Black Dog” (from 2005 album Jollity)

After echoing Brian Wilson (and indeed Paul McCartney) on LP opener “Nice to Be Nice”, Pugwash take a step back into sparseness and blow it wide open in a manner perhaps not heard since Dennis Wilson’s “Be With Me”.

Beginning in darkness, “Black Dog” is the sound of Pugwash saying “let there be light!” and the universe complying readily. In other words, it’s the sound of a band who make ‘epic’ sound effortless.

Dig that psychedelically huffing cello at the song’s summit, and indeed the luxurious Louis Armstrong/Burt Bacharach trumpet solo that ensues. Masterful.

“Monorail” (from 2002 album Almanac)

If Beck had done this, it would be one of his crowning glories: crashing groove, wibbly keys, cool-as-fuck vocal, lyrics playful yet sweet…all that good stuff, y’know? Liable to make you want to go running around in the sunshine looking for ‘wild’ mushrooms.

The words ‘deceptively sophisticated’ could be applied to much of Pugwash’s output, and the wilting chorus of “Monorail” sounds so immediate that it might be easy to overlook just how subtly unusual and utterly ingenious it is.

Put simply: more please, chaps!

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.