Irish popster Thomas Walsh has been prolific over the last decade or so, releasing albums as Pugwash and cricket-inspired music with The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon as The Duckworth Lewis Method (In fact, the Method's "Third Man" might be my favorite song of the decade to date). Walsh is back as Pugwash, but with a twist. Instead of his regular backing band he's opted instead to record with another power pop luminary, Jason Falkner, formerly of Jellyfish and having recorded with Paul McCartney among others. With Falkner on board, Silverlake is the best Pugwash album this decade and a breath of fresh pop air.
Someone (perhaps me just now) once said that a power pop record is only as good as its opening track, and Silverlake passes that test easily with "The Perfect Summer", its perfection only marred by a late autumn release instead of in June when it could have been summer's soundtrack with its irresistible chorus and handclaps in the verses. Falkner's presence is felt on the album's second single, "What Are You Like", with his backing vocals on the chorus and guitar solo in the bridge, as well as on "Why Do I", whose angular melody recalls some of Falkner's solo work. Elsewhere, "Without You" and "Everyone Knows That You're Mine" are the kind of top-notch power pop tunes which Walsh can make sound effortless but take great effort to dislodge from your brain, and "Sunshine True" recalls the pastoral balladry of XTC, whose Dave Gregory has worked with Walsh as well. And the album closer is a stunner as well - the dreamy ballad "Autarch" sounds like Jeff Lynne producing Brian Wilson.