Back with his fifth album But For All These Shrinking Hearts, Australian indie/roots artist Josh Pyke reminds us why he is one of the country’s premiere storytellers. Using a variety of instruments, the poeticism and honesty of his lyrics makes this a vulnerable release that is soothing to the ears and the heart.
Opening with “Book of Revelations,” a dramatic collection of noise reminiscent of a town square at midnight puts into motion the story of angst. Percussion, guitar rifts and light keys make this a well-articulated track that Pyke’s vocals roll over. Mesmerising in its ability to trap you in its melody, this song reminds you just how good Pyke is.
“Songlines” follows, and we hear the deeper tones of Pyke’s voice in this gentle piece. Building towards the chorus, it becomes a sunshine filled, love song that uses electro sounds, a killer brass section and xylophone to communicate the devotion to the singer’s subject. Comparing his love to song lyrics, the romantic ideology that she will “sing her way back home,” to him is enforced in a mature and hopeful track.
Bringing out strings and experimenting even more with instrumentation, “Late Night Driving” is narrative storytelling at it’s best. Allowing you to feel the cool, night breeze as he explains his current predicament, you are placed in his shoes. Delicate in its acoustic picking, the longing in Pyke’s voice will envelope you until his song of heartbreak becomes yours.
Harmonies are on point in “There’s A Line,” and electro overtones bring lightness to quite an intense song. Strategic in its delivery and the strength and ease of instrumentation, you can feel the tension as Pyke battles with the idea of leaving a loved one behind because they refuse to move forward with him in life.
“Momentary Glow” takes us back to the acoustic roots of Pyke, and the brevity of his tones articulates the delicate nature of a relationship and how it becomes all consuming. Lead single “Hollering Hearts” is next, and the delightful banjo driven melody eases the complexity of the album. Exploring what it means to find the things that give us passion, percussion makes this a pop tune that will simply make you feel good.
Rich in tone, a quirky collection of instruments work with Pyke’s voice to deliver, “Still Some Big Deal.” With a simplicity that will remind you of the golden days when the Beatles reigned, the beauty of this song highlights what many artists should be aiming for in their own pursuits.
Bringing up the tempo with “Be Your Boy,” a pleasant eeriness rests as Pyke chronicles the simplicity of young love. Drums and unusual backing vocals give you the sense of a well-worn relationship, steeped in history and memories that drive it today, as Pyke says, “You will always be that girl, serious for all to see…I think you’re funny for me.”
“When Your Colors Go” allows Pyke to explore the lower parts of his range, and this is a rather stripped back song. The pain in the delivery matches the lyrics, and melancholy is established as we sense the colors of a relationship being stripped away, along with the vibrancy of Pyke.
The tension eases with “Doing What You’re Told,” and an electric guitar lines drives the song as Pyke asks, “What’s the point of doing what you’re told?” Bringing in brass and strings, it is reminiscent of the glory days of youth when we questioned authority. The breakdown at the end makes it end with a flourish before a gorgeous instrumental, and it will likely stay in your head long after the track finishes.
Finishing up with “Someone To Rust With,” we are met by a man and his guitar. Gentle, simple and stripped back in delivery, this is a raw yet perfectly crafted love song, which places Pyke’s stamp firmly on album number five.