Bill Pritchard has a very good ear for melody, sets some songs in Stoke on Trent, and has a voice you can trust. His characters seem real, especially Polly “drifting through the stations in a pacamac” with “photos she took on the run, from someone, to someone”. Pritchard’s Staffordshire wit is also real, as with his old-school beer reference when singing about someone “in the lane of hazy litter, full of thoughts both mild and bitter.”
Unbeknownst to me, Pritchard has been around for decades, even having a minor MTV moment way back in the day. He lived in Bordeaux for a bit and has worked with Francoise Hardy, which perhaps explains how he also can sing convincingly in French. A Trip to the Coast his first album for five years, is full of the kind of sweet, slightly off-kilter songcraft and guitar pop that could result if, say, Lloyd Cole and Robyn Hitchcock were forced to breed. There is not a weak track in these 10, from the driving “In June” and chirpy “Trentham” to the vaguely sinister “Posters”. The languid title track could be about the seaside town of Llandudno. More certain is that I will not hear a lovelier song than “Polly” all year.