Jacco Gardner - Hypnophobia

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9.5 Release Date:2015-05-04

Dutch multi-instrumentalist Gardner’s 2013 debut (Cabinet of Curiosities) flooded most 'best of' lists that year, so expectations are high for his follow-up. Hypnophobia proves he’s no flash in the pan.

He opens the album with the mysteriously eerie keyboard-driven ‘Another You’, which sounds like a piece of De Wolfe library music filtered through the baroque sunshinepop of The Left Banke or The Association. ‘Grey Lines’ and the appropriately-titled closer ‘All Over’ are swirling, harpsichord-driven instrumentals, chock full of Pepperisms (‘She’s Leaving Home’ springs to mind) and Inspirals-inspired pop, while the effervescent twee-psych of ‘Find Yourself’ flashes brilliant reflections of Swiss psychedelic gnome Balduin across a field of day-glo poppies.

The Lennonesque acoustic ditty ‘Face to Face’ is a 21st century ‘Julia’, while ‘Outside Forever’’s nagging melody nearly drove me insane until I figured out how much it seemed to, intentionally or not, stem from Nick Heyward’s brilliant solo debut ‘Whistle Down the Wind’, one of the finest slices of pop perfection that nearly defined the ‘80s and is certainly one of my favourite tracks from the past 30-plus years.

At over eight minutes, the hyperkinetic synth-spark of ‘Before the Dawn’ may be a bit too extravagant, and its bordering-on-techno pedigree (Depeche Mode, A Flock of Seagulls, Alphaville, A-Ha, et al) may be a tad out of place here, but that’s a minor blip on an otherwise bright and bubbly collection of psychedelic baroque pop that’s even better than the debut. One of the best albums of the year so far.

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