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Three years after the release of Eleven Modern Antiquities and Pugwash return with The Olympus Sound, their fifth studio album.
Recorded in Dublin’s Exchequer Studios, the album offers a dozen slices of the kind of perfect pop people have come to expect from Thomas Walsh and his bandmates since their debut Almond Tea back in 1999.
This was the first time we’d been able to record an album all in one go,” says Walsh. “All our previous records had been pretty much on-the-run affairs, recording in batches here and there over a period of time and then seeing what we had, but this time out it we had a clear run at it and as a result I reckon there’s a more cohesive feel to things.”
Co-produced by Walsh and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist lash Flood, The Olympus Sound sees Pugwash paying tribute to their impeccable influences yet staying true to their own individual identity. Throughout the album you’ll be able to hear nods in the direction of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, ELO, XTC and Honeybus (“Yes, that is a kazoo you can hear on Answers on a Postcard – a much undervalued member of the musical family and one Honeybus used quite a lot on their early singles,” comments Thomas) but what emerges is the sound of a band clearly happy in their own skin.
“The way we recorded the album definitely helped foster a band feeling more than before,” explains the singer, “but the input from Tosh was unbelievable. The man is an amazing musician, I’d send him rough drafts of tracks and get back finished arrangements with incredible additions within the hour in some cases. His contributions to the record can’t be underestimated.”
Tosh Flood had toured with Thomas cif—id-the Divine Comedy’s Neil of-TM-Tr-Ion in The DuckWorth-Lewis-Melhod during the annus mirabilis of 2009 when the seemingly bonkers idea of a concept album about cricket – composed by two Irishmen at that – grew legs and led to a Top 40 chart placing in the UK, dinner at the Long Room at Lord’s and an Ivor Novello nomination.
“If ever there was a case of ‘Nobody knows anything’ then it was when the Duckworth-Lewis Method album started to gain momentum,” says Thomas. “Being interviewed by Henry Blofeld on Test Match Special was bizarre enough but to be nominated for an Ivor Novello award was, for me, the biggest part of that whole experience. As a songwriter it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Having guested on keyboards and vocals on Eleven Modern Antiquities Neil Hannon contributes to six tracks on The Olympus Sound, while other contributors include Ben Folds adding piano to Dear Belinda (a song written as a birthday present for actress Belinda Stewart-Wilson), and the XTC pair of Andy Partridge (a co-write and vocals on Here We Go Round Again) and Dave Gregory, who wrote the beautiful string arrangement for To the Warmth of You.
And as if Pugwash hadn’t enough momentum going in to make The Olympus Sound a further boost to the spirits came midway through recording.
” I arrived home late one night to find a letter from the States in the hall,” Thomas recalls. ” I was a bit knackered and opened it kind of half-heartedly and then nearly dropped when I realised that it was actually from Jeff Lynne saying that he’d heard I was a huge fan of his and telling me that he loved both Pugwash and the Duckworth-Lewis Method. I grew up worshipping ELO and to have their main man give me the thumbs-up out of the blue like that was absolutely brilliant. Any bit of tiredness that might have been creeping in to the recording work went right out the window after thatl can tell you.”
On The Olympus Sound you’ll hear the sound of a band on top of their game and ready to provide the perfect soundtrack to what remains of the summer. The weather may be rotten but at least we have Pugwash to bring the melodic sunshine to us all.
For more information, contact Pete Murphy or Jacqueline Lacy at EMI on 01-2039900 Or by e-mail at pete.murphy@emimusic.com or jacquelineJacy@emimusic.com