Bill Pritchard – A Trip to the Coast

Remember Bill Pritchard? If so, you probably own too much vinyl and have a habit of boring your friends with Anglophile trivia. And you can probably dig out a copy of Three Months, Three Weeks and Two Days, Pritchard’s 1989 high water mark from the days when the Brit stood at the precise intersection of Robyn Hitchcock, Lloyd Cole and Oranges and Lemons era Andy Partridge. He’s always charted an unusual course, moving to France and becoming a minor star there as well as in its cultural brotherland, Canada.

Pritchard’s largely vanished since the mid-90s, and the unexpected A Trip to the Coast implies he may have been cryogenically frozen for the past 18 years – replace the Partridge reference with Grant McLennan’s Go-Betweens compositions and this could easily be mistaken for a jangly late ’80s pop artifact. It’s amazing the extent to which Pritchard hews to old formulas – down to singing one song in French (“Tout Seul”) and including an echo-laden piano ballad (“Truly Blue”).

Overall the record is pleasant if unremarkable, but it opens with a pair of catchy jangle pop classics-to-be that could have carried a bevy of indieboy mixtapes back in the day. “Trentham” is plenty hummable but the real attention grabber is “Yeah Yeah Girl,” with its irresistible reafrain “I can’t help but wonder/ How it could be/ If I’d been more commercial/ And you less twee.” Pritchard made A Trip to the Coast with longtime collaborator Tim Bradshaw (with whom he fronted the short-lived band Beatitude) and the line reads like autobiography. I have no idea who the Yeah Yeah Girl is, but it’s the kind of mysteriously personal detail that can make an unassuming record like this worth remembering.

Bill Pritchard
A Trip to the Coast