A fine, long tradition of British psychedelia finds its weirdness in domestic scenarios. Robyn Hitchcock suns at the beach with his wife and his dead wife. Syd prattles on about his rickety bike to a likely lady. There are teacups on the tables and knitted scarves looped around the doorknobs. Surreality comes as familiar, cozy scenarios warp slightly off expectations.
The Doozer, whose name denotes both the songwriter and his 11-person band, partakes mostly of the comfortable side of this dichotomy. His jaunty, music-hall-through-a-cracked-mirror tunes, his glad-handing, all-together-now arrangements and wobbly voice instantly evoke Barrett and Hitchcock’s whimsical pop. Yet, there’s very little magic in Keep It Together‘s eight compositions, which seem, instead, to take perverse pleasure in the mundane. “There’s nothing much there, there’s nothing much there,” he sings in “Fen Drayton,” amid tipsy piano chords and a slapping, shuffle of snare brushes, and though he’s singing about a rural holiday, he could be talking about his album. A cut later, in “Frank’s Song,” we hear that “Frank has got his milk, it’s a normal day, won’t you say?” Yes, well, perhaps a little too normal?
The Doozer celebrates the bland and comfortable, building cheerful, shambling pop edifices around the slightest of lyrical observations. Arrangements are stuffed and overstuffed, with multiple, jangling guitar thrums, roadhouse pianos and harmonica alongside more exotic touches – a tuba, a sitar, and swooping strings. Aside from one ballad – the waltz-timed, 1950s crooning “Island” – the songs sound very much the same, bumping along on good cheer and woozy charm.
It’s not entirely clear whether The Doozer took his name from the Fraggle Rock characters, that practical set of creatures who, unlike the Fraggles, love to work and hate playing games. But like his namesakes, The Doozer is grounded and hands-on and a little dull. His music is nowhere near as trippy as it’s been made to sound. You can’t help coming out of Keep It Together siding with the Fraggles -- with imagination and oddity and the wonderful weirdness that rears right out of the everyday. If The Doozer is a Doozer, then Syd and Robyn were surely Fraggles.