William Doyle’s latest album, Springs Eternal, interrogates the dangers and possibilities of climate change and ever-accelerating technological advances. He crafts his idiosyncratic art-pop – at times baroque, whimsical, or both – to serve his subject matter: his fragmented sense of self fracturing under the weight of two existential threats.
Luckily, while that might sound overwhelmingly cerebral, an almighty number of bold hooks keeps the album accessible. Leaning into shortened attention spans, Doyle fluently weaves strings, synths and guitar into a modern tapestry, with the help of Mike Lindsay on production at his Margate studio.
And alongside its coastal origins, the language of water permeates the album (the title its most obvious surfacing). Rising sea levels and the deluge of information meet at the ocean, while Doyle splinters into a menagerie of characters. On ‘Soft to the Touch’, he’s a cowboy, replete with yodelling disruption to a synth-led lullaby – on ‘Castawayed’, he’s fingerpicking from a desert island.
The Radiohead and Robert Wyatt comparisons that follow Doyle fleetingly apply here too, his delivery recalling Thom Yorke’s keening pleas or lyrics channelling Wyatt’s eccentricities. For the main part, however, he’s a singular master at work, bending form, lyricism and production to underline his prescient thesis.