How The West Was Won
Domino Recording Co Ltd.
My favourite album of 2017 – and I forgot to mention it until just now – was easily Peter Perrett’s How The West Was Won. Remarkable for many reasons, not least because it was the debut solo albums, arriving some 30 years after he was last significantly, meaningfully making music with bite. One of the forgotten figures – a great songwriter, a cool singer and rhythm guitarist, his band, The Only Ones, made three very good records and then Perrett disappeared for a while. Yes, yes, he resurfaced with The One and there was an Only Ones reunion a decade ago, but surely no one expected a 2017 solo album from Perrett. And no one could have predicted it would be so good.
So, it might sound like I’m handing out a badge simply because it existed – but no, this album is one of those sublime, near-perfect collections of shining pop songs. It’s a throwback to many different things, a seemingly broad survey of Britpop and post-punk and yet it simply hangs in the air as something other, its own thing; a wonderful album of really strong songs. It almost feels like the memoir-as-album – a life-story in ten short, sharp pop songs.
We open with the title track and a wafting reminder of Bob Dylan’s If Not For You is the immediate tease, but Perrett’s stoned-over drawl straight away shifts the tone and it’s a sort of musical smirk that is smeared over every song that follows. It’s easily the best song to mention Kim Kardashian’s bum – but maybe it only has Kanye West songs in competition. So it’s far better than just a song mentioned that famous arse.
From there the laconic delivery continues – it’s the real stamp on and of this album. Just as The Only Ones were deep in the punk movement but writing pure pop songs, Perrett here as some sort of elder statemen is still intent on caring about the song first and foremost. And sneering, and posturing, well it’s only ever as part of a song – never as an excuse to think around or look away from the song.
So, An Epic Story takes us instantly deeper into the album. And deeper into the love songs Perrett is composing for his wife. It’s almost alternately love and then despair, so Hard To Say No bounces in as the best song Oasis never wrote (re-wrote) and then the glorious Troika, a timeless pop melody couching yet another ode to his undying love.
This is just wonderful stuff. And yes the element of surprise is a big feature – no one was expecting an album from Perrett, let alone one this good. But it’s simply a stunner. Just the best set of pop tunes I heard all year and still (and forever?) it resonates. Still one of my most regularly played records. So I thought I better get something down about it in case anyone out there missed it and wants to check it out.
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