Imagine being Patrick Watson. Several years ago you team up with The Cinematic Orchestra to release a fragile, heartbreaking little song and in the time that’s passed, you’ve heard it soundtrack everything from an X Factor weep-fest to a Match of the Day tribute. Whatever lightning was captured in that To Build A Home bottle, for better or worse you’ve been trying to chase it again under your own name (and almost managing in the case of Lighthouse from the last album).
Twinkly, orchestral indie-pop is always going to be the thing here, and that’s not exactly changing any time soon with an album as twee as its title. But there’s something knowing about calling your record Love Songs For Robots; the band know that, clearly, their music is anything but. So it’s unsurprising that they continue playing to (and with) that superfluous dramatic side on this new record.
What unfurls over ten songs is essentially the lower scale of Patrick Watson. The title track unfurls with Watson’s marshmallow vocal, cushioned initially by strings and harmony before giving way to a rousing finale. But then there’s a song like Bollywood, an appropriate title given its vivacious changes of direction in a short space of time, but ultimately being an overcooked mish-mash of style.
It’s a shame that most of the songs seem as restless as he is – Hearts zips off on a tangent just as we’re acclimatising, and tracks in the second half of the album touch a runtime that seems a tad indulgent. What saves it once again is that ridiculously charming voice; without that we might as well be in the presence of automatons.
Love Songs For Robots by Patrick Watson can be ordered here.