Review Summary: Josh Pyke can write beautiful and catchy songs. However, sometimes lyrically he can be seen as borderline pretentious which is a flaw to his debut album.
Josh Pyke is a new Australian singer and songwriter. He has got a lot of success within the Australian music industry. His EP, Feeding the Wolves, garnered a lot of attention due the song ‘Middle of the hill’ (also featured here). It was on the Australian non-commercial radio station’s yearly Hottest 100, it featured at #19 in 2005. Feeding the wolves also was nominated for an ARIA. However, this success has gone to his head with a few songs.
Lyrically he is very good as he can write with personal attributes. The problem with him writing in personal way is the a few songs are borderline pretentious. This could be due to him wanting another two songs of this album to be on the Hottest 100. The worse example of him being pretentious is ‘Fed and watered’ which is about his rivals and how he will always beat. He sings ‘I guess the industry found a use for my name sake’
and ‘I earn my wage on a track that's almost totally bare’
. However, musically he is very good and this alone can suppress the pretentiousness which is found in a few of his songs.
‘Someone else’s town’ is a fine song which only has him singing with his acoustic guitar. It has hints of Nick Drake’s Parasite as the themes as well are similar. He uses an acoustic guitar on all of the songs which adds a folk tinge to the songs. However, he also has a backing band which is similar to that of Elliott Smith’s album XO. The backing band doesn’t take any of the limelight from Josh Pyke, instead, they enhance the sound and capture the up-beat themes which he sings about. Josh Pyke has soothing, relaxing vocals which creates the melody that the backing band revolves around.
‘Middle of the hill’ which was previously mentioned to a certain extent detracts from the overall flow of the album. This is more then likely due to it being an old song which doesn’t capture the same flow the newer songs do. It also seems less orchestrated then the radio version. This could be due to it having weaker production then the other songs. It is a generally nice track by itself as he has a more free flowing vocal style as he is telling a story rather then actually singing. He has a nice melodious vocal delivery. The music around it the song is simple and keeps the same pace in a way as his singing. However, it could have easily been left off or at least been placed in a different area of the album. It doesn’t have the same feel as song like ‘Mannequins’ or ‘Forever song’.
These songs, ‘Mannequins’ and ‘Forever song’, showcase the dynamic feel which the backing band creates. Josh Pyke has a simple acoustic guitar riff to open ‘Forever song’. It then moves onto him overlaying his vocals which are a nice compliment to the acoustic guitar. He doesn’t go overboard with vocal effects; it is further accentuated with the drums being a nice background beat to his vocals. ‘Mannequins’ is a bit similar to ‘Forever song’ except the drums are more prominent on this track. His acoustic guitar is less in the mix as the drums play a larger role which adds a different dynamic to the song. These two songs are fairly similar in terms of the lyrics, these themes are mainly about love.
There is no denying that Josh Pyke can write beautiful and catchy songs. However, sometimes lyrically he can be seen as borderline pretentious which is a flaw to his debut album. He will improve with time as he has the general outlines to make some great songs. The backing band is not as prominent as it could be but it doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the album. The single of the EP, ‘Middle of the hill’, could have easily been left off as it hinders the flow. Overall it is a very enjoyable album but needs a tweak here and there.