The dictionary says that ‘Odludek’ is Polish for ‘recluse’. Which is odd given that Jimi Goodwin’s album of the same name seems much more like a series of false starts than a collection of cautious ponderings.
In fairness, this is Goodwin’s first independent musical venture since Doves announced their extended break in 2009, so there’s little surprise that he wants to do something that stands apart. Before its release, Goodwin described ‘Odludek’ as a ‘mad mixtape’ which is ‘not trying to be wilfully eclectic’ but is instead ‘just a reflection of how I schizophrenically devour music’. To that end, there is certainly a fair amount of variety across the album’s ten songs.
Just how well ‘Odludek’ actually hangs together is the record’s main achievement. From the opening detuned blare of ‘Terracotta Warrior’ to the faintly haunting and Mumfordian pickings of ‘Panic Tree’, Goodwin’s talent as a multi-instrumentalist and orchestrator shines through the album. It’s also a genuine pleasure to hear his voice on new material. ‘Oh! Whiskey!’ for example, is a soulful piano and guitar number which manages to sound cheerful, wry and reflective all at once, without sounding bitter or, even worse, whiny.
But, while they do make for a well-structured collection of songs, individual tracks are often disappointing and the result feels like a half-hearted series of Doctor Who; its audience sustained more by thrilling trailers and the promise of fulfilment than any real substance. ‘Man vs Dingo’ - the most ‘schizophrenic’ of tracks - with its N64 Mario-Kart introduction and its part ska marching band, part Franz Ferdinand lip-curling tirade is an interesting experiment, but it’s also not the sound of a musician at his best. Accompanied by an awkward ballad like ‘Keep My Soul in Song’ or ‘Live Like a River’s energetic synth intro but jarringly hollow opening gambit (‘we need to remind our masters that chains were meant to be broken’), the end result is like a Damien Hirst cow: - curious fascination in looking at something missing half a body, but you’d feel better if the rest came along with it.