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Whenever I listen to Josh Pyke I’m instantly transported to when I first came across his music. That feeling of being 17 again, with a fresh set of P plates sticky taped to the front of my car, fanging it along those curling coastal roads of the south coast on that eternal hour-long drive home from school.
It’s strangely fitting that I already associate his music with being in a state of motion, considering the inspiration behind his fifth album But For All These Shrinking Hearts comes from the story behind Charles Redheffer’s failed attempt at creating the world’s first perpetual motion machine.
While such a specific, and somewhat random idea may seem like a peculiar source of creative stimulation, I guess that’s the point. Creativity cannot and should not be controlled. Nor should it be feared — and that sense of ‘creative fearlessness’ clearly resonates throughout this latest offering from one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters of the last decade.
The opening track The Book of Revelations nails that happy-yet-melancholy tone Pyke has become known for. Lyrically it’s one of the standout tracks off a very strong album, edging ahead with lines like: “If you need to cut me out, then cut me, but make sure that I die. And don’t, don’t you let me down easy or in pieces. I can take it all at once.” If you had Pyke pegged for a push over, sounds like you may want to reassess.
While But For All These Shrinking Hearts has everything you’d want from a Josh Pyke album – intricate melodies, exquisite harmonies and choruses that will worm their way into your head after just one listen – there’s also a whole lot more going on here. The subtle shift in vocal variations on Where Your Colours Go and the welcome synth work in his recent single There’s A Line are the mark of a man willing and ready to flex his creative boundaries. Not to mention the killer collaborations and flawless melding of styles on Momentary Glow, co-written with Dustin Tebbut, and Songlines penned with Marcus Azon of Jinja Safari.
The result? Like all good songs, the stories will stay with you and get you thinking. Thematically it all comes back to the idea of motion, of moving forward creatively, personally and as a society. But don’t worry; if you were just hanging out for a few more love songs, you won’t be disappointed.