In interviews leading up to its release, erstwhile Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin likened his first solo album to a mix tape, something akin to the genre-hopping spirit of Beastie Boys’ big comeback album Check Your Head. The Mancunian musician doesn’t go that far, but he does manage to impress all the same. The 10 tracks here bound playfully through a variety of styles and melodic signatures, echoing the fevered influences of a serious music fan.
There’s audible delight in Goodwin playing against the bombastic type of his regular gig. He’s obviously enjoying the heck out of looping a small piece of a psych-funk record on “Didsbury Girl” or heading back into Sub Sub (his pre-Doves dance oriented band) territory on “Live Like A River,” with its stutter-step beat and synth flourishes that could have been lifted from an acid house 12”. And on the wooly “Man V Dingo,” Goodwin attempts to mash together a half dozen or so styles and musical elements into one gloriously knotty whole.
Of course, there are Doves elements that Goodwin can’t shake—nor should he be expected to. His lyrics throughout delve into concerns both personal and global. And, as with the best of his work in his day job band, it’s the former that scores the most hits. Goodwin’s exploration of his issues with alcohol on the one-two punch of “Oh! Whiskey” and “Ghost of the Empties” breaks your heart a little but should inspire some potential rumination about your own dabblings with alcohol, and the stumbling metaphor of “Panic Tree” doesn’t dull the impact of the key line: “I think I’m gonna cut the fucker down.” Less successful is the brain dump of images and browbeating that makes up “Man V Dingo,” leaving the playful music to carry the weight of the song.
Odludek does its job well enough as it pulses forward, though it strangely doesn’t stick as deeply as you might expect. In that regard, it follows the legacy of many a solo album by a member of an already established project: it’s a fun, lighthearted diversion while fans wait patiently for another full band release. This sets itself up at times to be an exception to that maxim, but bounces too high and far around the map to maintain a melodic flow from track one to 10. That said, I’d love to hear Goodwin take another crack at a solo record. This is further evidence of a real songwriting/producing talent that simply needs just a bit more focus to deliver a potential classic.