Since his punk-wave debut in 1976 with his band the Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock has faithfully followed in the sardonic footsteps of lyrical wits such as Lou Reed, Syd Barrett, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. With Olé! Tarantula, Hitchock returns to his wickedly addictive Brit-pop roots. In doing so, he demonstrates a close kinship with more modern alt-rock darlings such as Guided By Voices and the Flaming Lips. The result sounds like the total fulfillment of the Soft Boys' psychedelic promises and may be the best effort yet from an artist not known for turning in shabby work. Olé! Tarantula is a positively Shakespearean meditation on birth, sex, a little more sex, death, and decay. It begins with a rave-up about ancient mummies discovered in craters and other images lifted from the pages of Fangoria. Ten vividly surreal tracks later, it fades away with the lipstick-smear portrait of a New York Doll. Everything in between is simply wonderful.
-- Chris Davis