Kevin Ayers

Unfairground | Gigantic
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  April 7, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Ayers, a founding member of Soft Machine, left after one album, before the group mutated into a ’70s prog-jazz behemoth. He then crafted several minor solo masterpieces that found common ground with the Velvet Underground and Burt Bacharach, coming on like a naughty schoolboy channeling Maurice Chevalier. Unfairground is the result of Ayers’s recent “comeback” sessions, which were spearheaded by younger acolytes — members of Teenage Fanclub and Ladybug Transistor — with the help of old friends Robert Wyatt, Bridget St. John, and Phil Manzanera. The production embeds Ayers’s celebrated croon within a compendium of psych-pop revival sounds from the last 15 years, from Calexico-style trumpets to blatant Beatlesque gestures (the Mellotron that introduces “Friends and Strangers”), John Barry flourishes (“Wide Awake,” with brass accents by Architecture in Helsinki), and the wall of Beach Boys harmonizing that closes the album. The skewed sea chanty “Brainstorm” even features former members of the Elephant 6 collective. Ayers is still exploring his usual themes — regret, desire, escape, and the pleasures and pitfalls of attempting to live a chilled-out life in a fast-spinning world. His philosophizing is rarely twee, and his fine-oaked voice gives new authority to his pastis-and-mushroom-fueled musings.
Related: Master at work, PJ Harvey, Robert Wyatt, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Bridget St John, Burt Bacharach, John Barry,  More more >
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