Precocious and quintessentially British eccentric Simon Bookish comes on like a bespoke hybrid of Jarvis Cocker, Trevor Horn (Buggles) and Sparks. With two albums and a host of remix work (including Grizzly Bear) and session work for the likes of Patrick Wolf, no moss grows on this stylishly sauntering stone. But whereas previous efforts have been immersed in futurist synthscapes, this time around he’s using the working methods of big band oddballs like August Darnell and Carl Stalling. Horns, brass, piano, exotic percussion, harp and organ dominate, while Bookish himself alternates between conducting madly, and posing it up like Kraftwerk’s showroom dummies dolled up as Oscar Wildes. All the while his authoritative and easy voice takes flight in a gorgeous falsetto.
But the ambition is way fucking palpable, Everything/Everything is informed by musical theatre, glam rock, early electro, big band jazz, choral music, new wave, loungetronica, cartoon music, sunny ’60s LA pop, the Zombies, Scott Walker, and torch songs. Songs are constructed carefully and lovingly and are never content to linger in the verse/chorus/verse rut, instead they pick up last minute train tickets for all manners of exotic and unheard climes. It’s going to take a few listens and a little patience to fully digest the futurist manifestos (a paean to Buckminster Fuller, sure) couched within pop that is both baroque and modern.
At times the songs are too precious and cleverly constructed for their own good, you hope for some more grit and sweat, and worry that Everything/Everything might become too smug and clever — less desperate genius of This Is Hardcore or bonkers fun of Kimono My House than smartest-boy-in-the-roomisms of “Casanova.”
Similar in rarefied scope to the poised weirdness of Andrew Bird or Eric Matthews, my hope is that he eclipses peers like Final Fantasy, Patrick Wolf, Jaime T, and Last Shadow Puppets, ending up most likely to do a runner to a monastery after a failed suicide attempt, only to have it besieged by teenage fans.