Kevin Coyne – Learn to Swim, Learn to Drown

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The first of two new Kevin Coyne albums released during 1980, Bursting Bubbles has the reputation for being his most “difficult” LP yet, a darkly tempered, and roughly produced collection that does, in places, feel a little like having your ears encased in concrete, while listening to an irascible schoolmaster lecture you about the hopelessness of life. But it’s also a beautiful piece of work, a fitting successor to the fractured minimalism of Millionaires & Teddy Bears, and a stark rejoinder to the awesome awkwardness of Babble. Songs like “Children’s’ Crusade,” “Learn to Swim — Learn to Drown” and “The Old Fashioned Love Song” all offer the unwary listener an object lesson in not judging a song from its title, while “No Melody” is so brilliantly mistitled that it might well be one of Coyne’s best jokes ever. Still, the album’s moodiness cannot be shaken off easily, a state of affairs that recommends Bursting Bubbles only to true Coyne converts. You certainly wouldn’t want to start listening to him with this one!
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