When Andy Partridge of XTC decided to launch his Ape House record label, there was really only one band in the running. They were a group from Ireland, yet named themselves after a fictional pirate hero of English children’s stories, Pugwash. While the trio have flown under the radar for the past ten years in the United States, Pugwash have become a pretty big deal in both the Irish and English music presses.
They have released three albums since their inception: Almond Tea (1999), Almanac (2003), and Jollity (2005). Their fourth, Eleven Modern Antiquities is due out in 2010. Giddy is a 13 song compilation of Pugwash's work over the past decade, including two songs from Antiquities.
Andy Partridge hedged his bets pretty well, because if Giddy gets any airplay, Pugwash could find a big audience in the United States.
The disc opens up with “Apples,” a glorious symphonic pop tune on par with classic later period XTC. From there we move on to the defiantly naïve track, “It’s Nice To Be Nice.” The only way I can describe this song is Rubber Soul era Beatles, met with classic Beach Boys harmonies.
The Beach Boys effect is no surprise, as one of the many guests to appear with Pugwash is Nelson Bragg of The Brian Wilson Band. Other notables who pay tribute include Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory of XTC, Michael Penn, and Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze, among a host of others.
Thomas Walsh is the leader of Pugwash, writing and singing all of their songs. He claims to have grown up on a steady diet of Beatles, Kinks, and ELO.
The influences are certainly apparent on Giddy. “The Season Of Flowers And Leaves,” seems to channel “She’s Leaving Home,” while “Cluster Bomb” features Jeff Lynne-style strings a-plenty.
The Ray Davies connection is a little more subtle. Walsh's tribute to his hero gets to the heart of the matter, and is great fun as well. "My Genius" states Walsh's claim right from the beginning, “You fell, for my genius, but my genius, is out of a bottle.” Sounds sad, but this is an ode to inebriation, as only an Irishman can put it. “Where would we be…with sobriety?” is a celebration of getting loaded, Ray Davies style.