While Ireland's Pugwash has been plying their trade making smart, well-crafted pop songs for a number of years now, it wasn't until 2014's compilation, A Rose In A Garden Of Weeds, that the band had been afforded a worldwide release. Now signed to Omnivore records, the band has released its first studio album to a worldwide audience, Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends). The sound is familiar, influenced particularly by the likes of Jeff Lynne, yet the band adds enough of their own spin to the music to push the songs in exciting new directions.
The album leads off with "Kicking And Screaming," a jangly bit of 60s power pop. The song builds in intensity throughout and features a gloriously noisy garage band guitar solo. The mellow pop of "Lucky In Every Way" follows, showcasing the band's Lynne influence with its tight structure and strong harmonies. This is ear candy at its finest, instantly sticking in the listener's head.
"Feed His Heart With Coal" betrays its title with its laid back, folksy feel that wouldn't be out of place on a Fountains of Wayne album. The song includes a psychedelic break that harkens back to the music of The Move. "Clouds" finds the band taking a bossa nova turn while still sounding like Pugwash. It's a testament to the group's diversity that they can do a song so different stylistically and make it fit like this.
The band veers into Paul McCartney territory with the bouncy "Silly Love." While the song doesn't recall McCartney's own similarly titled number, it does evoke memories of "Let 'Em In." Regardless, it is a good song with a great melody. The album ends with the laid back "We Are Everywhere." Singer Thomas Walsh's voice sounds as if it was run through a Leslie speaker, bringing the album to a trippy close. This song, like many others throughout, evokes a dreamy state in the midst of its pop sensibilities.
It's a travesty that it has taken this long for Pugwash to get a worldwide release with their music. With its strong songs and memorable choruses, Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) is a better late than never opportunity for the group to get their great songs into the public consciousness.