In spite of a violet, twilit snowscape on the cover and the title’s nocturnal farewell, Goodnight Oslo is Robyn Hitchcock’s sunniest record in ages. Recording with a gaggle of friends will do that. It’s the prolific eccentric’s second with The Venus 3—Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin—and guests include lead Decemberist Colin Meloy, Egyptian Morris Windsor, and Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger. Two songs even feature female backing vocals, a rarity for Hitchcock. “Saturday Groovers” best exemplifies the light mood: Its bounce is borne along by harmonies and handclaps. The good vibes go hand-in-hand with playful experimentation. “TLC” has a ’50s-style lope, the gallop of “Hurry For The Sky” brings it close to country, and Peter Buck lays “Sixteen Years” on a bed of bristly guitar fuzz. (Longtime fans looking for something slower and more contemplative can enjoy “I’m Falling” and the ominous title track.) Since his last batch of originals in 2006, Hitchcock has reissued much of his discography. Thankfully, that glance backward was just that: a glance. The vitality that fuels Goodnight Oslo makes it feel like Hitchcock is saying hello for the first time.
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