Melancholic psych-pop rains on the shores of NOVELTY ISLAND as the acid-spiked-chocolate-box, debut album is released with purple-hued single: BLACKCURRANT SKY

by the partae
Novelty Island – How Are You Coping With This Century?
OUT NOW on Think Like A Key Music
Vinyl / CD / Digital
Reality remains a close neighbour of joyous delirium on Novelty Island as the debut album, borne of Liverpool singer-songwriter, Thomas McConnell’s capacity for vivid, surrealist storytelling, is released with the help of a video for the single, Blackcurrant Sky. Bounding into the world cloaked in a primary-coloured outfit of joyous melody frilled with the dark lace of an easily subverted human psyche, How Are You Coping With This Century? proves to be an intricately-constructed, high-humoured and beautifully-posed 12-track question to occupy listener’s minds for a long time to come.

The melancholic smile of Blackcurrant Sky itself begins in the loneliness of the small hours, where McConnell, occupied by his guitar and thoughts of leaving London, caught the wisps of something new in a quiet chord progression. The next move for McConnell was locked-down Liverpool and a run of weeks, turning into months, of passing nobody on empty streets and finding ample space to absorb surrealism going mainstream during the panic-buying and doorstep-clapping months of global shutdown. Enough to drive anyone to make a brilliant album of quintessentially English, gentle-insanity-meet-genius eccentric psych pop.

Opening with bar room piano as lonely as a beached, rum-slinging sailor, partly indebted to Till I Die by The Beach Boys, McConnell slips into a prog-inspired dream in Blackcurrant Sky, floating on thoughts inspired by Brian Eno and French atmospheric-conjurors, Air. Mellotron meets pedal steel and languid, self-performed percussion kisses full-bodied vocal harmonies in another convincing, genre-unspecific cut from a happily genre-unspecific collection of songs.

Unrestrained and unrepentant in his adoration of Paul McCartney and particularly the artistically-free, nothing-to-lose RAM-era, McConnell first introduced How Are You Coping With This Century? with its first, early summer single, Listen. Becoming increasingly amplified and fuzzed-up, the masterpiece that is the Graham Coxon/Beatles crossover brilliance of Michael Afternoon became and remains a totem of hirsute indie songwriting to sit alongside McConnell’s off-kilter balladeering and countrified jaunts. Third single, This Bird emerged as a glorious, late-season sundowner made special with stream-of-consciousness lyricism.

At the same time as releasing his noteworthy debut album, McConnell announces his first, post-lockdown return to the stage, etching the following Novelty Island Autumn/Winter 2021 live dates into his diary:

  • Fri 15 October 2021 – Handyman’s Supermarket, Liverpool
  • Sun 14 November 2021 – The Cavern Club, Liverpool supporting Poppermost
  • Tue 16 November 2021 – The Lexington, London – Supporting Silvertwin
  • Sat 4 December 2021 – The Boiler Shop, Newcastle – Supporting The Pale White
  • Sat 11 December 2021 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – Supporting The Pale White
  • Sun 12 December 2021 – The Key Club, Leeds – Supporting The Pale White

In making the perfect album through its many imperfections, McConnell, cites Beach Boys and Kate Bush as major influences alongside the obvious McCartney and The Beatles references. Plenty of Monty Python-esque imagery and a nod to Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in the name of the project itself, mark out a keen, offbeat sense of humour, without which Novelty Island would be a far darker place to visit, let alone live.

Novelty Island exists as a complete vision of a world of and outside the one listeners live in, with McConnell not only creating all of Novelty Island’s carefully assembled, rainbow-riven moving and still imagery, but also stewarding a growing visual estate on Instagram. Functioning between the food pictures and motivational quotes, Novelty Island’s surrealist social media offers a suitably slow-moving aide to the aural experience.

For all upcoming release announcements, album pre-orders and to find out first about live dates, connect with Novelty Island online at:

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