The singer and multi-instrumentalist Epic Soundtracks, born Paul Godfrey, has an impressive post-punk pedigree. As co-founder, with brother Nikki Sudden, of the British band Swell Maps, Epic helped to influence such indie giants as Sonic Youth and Pavement. He went on to play drums and piano with the Jacobites and later with Crime and the City Solution, a band formed out of detritus from the implosion of Australia's legendary Birthday Party.
In the early 90s, Epic stepped out from behind the drum kit to record a series of solo albums that showcased his skills as a piano balladeer and intimate lyricist. This promising solo career came to an abrupt end when he was found dead in his London apartment on November 22, 1997 (the same day, as fate would have it, that Michael Hutchence of INXS was found hung in a Sydney hotel room), the victim of an apparent suicide.
A posthumous compilation album of odds and ends called Everything is Temporary was released in 1999, put together by Nikki Sudden based on plans written down by Epic before his death. Good Things, which will be released on May 24th by DBK Works, is Epic's last album, recorded shortly before his passing but released for the first time nearly eight years later. Nikki and Kevin Junior, who plays some guitar on the album, took on the emotional task of preparing the original 4-track home recordings for release. The resulting document has an immediacy that is only enhanced by the bare-bones recording techniques, which allow the simplicity and intimacy of Epic's music to come to the fore.
Good Things is a gorgeous, haunting album, which conjures up echoes of Nick Drake and Syd Barrett, whom Epic has now joined in the pantheon of tragic singer-songwriters. Thematically poised on the border between resignation and redemption, the album is almost impossible to separate from Epic's untimely end, with prophetic lyrics that are hopeful and desperate at the same time.
Good Things opens with the sparse "I Do Declare," a dirge-like song with piano and a guitar picking out a simple melody. The deceptively upbeat lyrics speak of crossing the borderland, but when Epic sings "It'll be so good/When everything is understood," it sounds more like a wish destined to be unfulfilled.