Greatest hits: album reviews

Music review: Patrick Watson's Love Songs for Robots - heavenly complexity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 May, 2015, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 May, 2015, 10:52pm

In January 2010, Montreal indie prog-folk quartet Patrick Watson, led by the multi-instrumentalist and lead whisperer of the same name, took to the stage in the intimate setting of Grappa's Cellar, Central, and proceeded to knock the sold-out, jam-packed crowd on their collective butt.

Slack jaws aside, many may argue that this intense carnivalesque performance was equalled, even bettered, when baroque fiddler Andrew Bird graced the same stage a few days later. Bird was certainly an engrossing spectacle that night, but Patrick Watson had just played Hong Kong's gig of the year. Full of audience participation and a bewildering display of musicianship, it was the best local show since Australian rock trio Dirty Three mesmerised a few hundred people at Caritas Community Hall four years earlier.

Patrick Watson's organic and deeply layered music is written for the concert hall (or a good set of headphones), a place where it can be truly comprehended. On record, it only reveals its delicate beauty after a few good spins. Their fifth album requires much the same dedication to be fully appreciated, but in the end it's definitely worth it.

Inspired by Watson's interest in science fiction and in particular the soundtrack to Blade Runner, Love Songs for Robots has a mysterious and otherworldly air floating through it. And other than the playful '60s pop of Grace, it's an album of heavenly complexity from a band with their heads happily in the clouds. There's a deeper sonic lushness to the astral melancholy than on Watson's more grounded previous album, Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the songwriter's swooning falsetto more inclined to soar this time around.

Love Songs for Robots Patrick Watson (Domino Records)