Stanley Brinks is a troubadour in a travelogue. Drinking from Darlington to Brighton, Wakefield to Berlin, with side trips to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, Stan’s life on the road breeds an observer’s mentality, describing new towns, new friends, and the sense of longing for a place to which you always return. The wanderlust is reflected in the variety of the songs: ‘Wakefield’ is jazzy, with a swinging old-timey feel, while ‘Brighton’ has a choogling rhythm, redolent of Creedence Clearwater Revival, with a brilliantly shronky swamp-pop guitar solo. The exotic 'My Camel’ mixes Can-like slinky rhythms and snake-charmer pennywhistle and ‘Love Me Too’ pushes the exotica even further and furnishes it with some jazzy psychedelic twists. ‘Fire To My Mind’ has some crazy soukous guitar runs while Stan switches to the Caribbean with ‘Back To My Island In The Sun’, reminding us of his love of calypso. At all turns, the Wave Pictures have his back, showing off their versatility regardless of song-style. If those songs have a charmingly shambolic feel, it’s because they choose to play it that way, not because they can’t play.
Andre, sorry Stanley, has released so many albums (a Childish-challenging 100+) that he moves easily between styles and from light to dark. But every album carries a standout, stone-cold classic and this time it’s the anthemic ‘Berlin’, with its easy, loping Velvet Underground rhythm and a clever melody (shades of Herman Dune’s awesome ‘Red Blue Eyes’) steeped in a certain degree of melancholy and love/hate ambivalence that makes it even more memorable.
Stanley and the Wave Pictures are well-matched in producing this playful, lo-fi charmer, which is their fourth album together. Just like Jonathan Richman, he has the ability to take simple ideas and make them profound and cherishable. Even if you can’t keep up with his total output, these collaborations with the Wave Pictures are as good as anything he’s done.