Welcome to Bobby’s Motel is one of those debut records that wears its influences proudly. Every few seconds, something in it will give a little tickle to your mental music archive; it could be a vocal intonation or a lyric, a bass strut or a production flourish. For the subsequent few moments, the track unfurling before you is vying for your attention with your innate desire to identify exactly which Talking Heads or Devo track it rhymes with. Whether that experience sounds like a fun game or some kind of torture will likely dictate your reaction to this album.
The track ‘Bobby’s Forecast’ alone runs a gauntlet of historical trends, from the ESG/DFA cowbell rhythms that set it in motion to the deep, funk-rock groove that forms the song’s backbone to the James Brown “c’mon, break the drummer’s arms” exaltations of vocalist Austin Boylan as it breaks down. The sludgy psych of the title track, the Bryan Ferry sophisti-pop of ‘Reflection’, the Nick Cave drama of ‘NY Inn’, it’s an entire day’s BBC 6 Music running order in less than 40 minutes.
Deeper subject matter is rarely easy to discern, save perhaps for the climate change-conscious ‘Hot Heater’, but in truth, Welcome to Bobby’s Motel is an endlessly re-listenable album, and fans of post-punk and new wave will find many joys in its contents. If there truly is nothing new under the sun, is it really such a crime to create such a loving facsimile of a model that works so well?
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