On his first solo jaunt, Peter Joseph Head comes across as a stranger, more daring version of fellow Aussie Ben Lee. The comparison is apt not because the two musicians share a country but because both tend to rely on quirky vocal turns and significant melodic gifts in pursuit of a bouncy, optimistic, acoustic pop vibe. According to the album’s press release, Head is attempting to document “…the search for the sublime in the mundane”. In writing an album full of carefree buoyancy, Head has, at the least, succeeded in introducing a few sublime moments into the life of the listener.
Where Head sets himself apart, from any popular singer-songwriter, really, is in applying a life full of diverse musical experience to the 12 tunes on Normal Ours. Head studied composition, musicology and several traditional Japanese instruments while on scholarship at Kyoto City University of Arts. His love of sounds is displayed in instrument choices (everything from the Japanese sanshin to scissors, rubbish bins and copious amounts of Casio keyboards); his understanding of composition shines through in the occasional use of minimalist, repetitive structures on several tunes. Head’s best tracks include album opener “How to Rest” (a marriage of world influences and radio-ready adult contemporary), the folk-rock jam “Drive Time” and the quiet, pastoral “All The Songs That You Sing I Sing Too”.
Occasionally, Head’s brave spirit distracts from a track’s tunefulness and does his work a disservice. At his best, though, Head proves pop music can both be accessible and adventurous.