Charles Howl is playing Liverpool, so Getintothis’ Cath Bore does her world famous happy dance.
When Charles Howl, the moniker of musician and filmmaker Danny Nellis, first emerged with a handful of surf-psych-punk recordings, he and his words were buried somewhere deep underneath a hiss of purple smoke and fuzz.
But it took just a year or two for his debut album Sir Vices in 2015 to show the promise of an exceptional songwriter as he moved further into unashamed European territory.
Yet it’s new album My Idol Family, released in October, showing the mightiest leap in Howl’s work and confidence up front. The songs on it are melancholic, witty and sharp – he writes with a scalpel – and so very, very clever.
Championed by 6 Music’s Marc Riley, Charles Howl is at ease observing that which amuses and annoys, sharing details with us with a gleeful wink.
Ear worm keys on The Dinner Party, Death Of Print and American Boy on My Idol Family are a continuation of the good stuff, but the Charles Howl of now is a man unafraid to explore further avenues, as those present at his show with a string quartet at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen last November will attest.
On that night, the strange, eerie Never Forget Who You Are become more so, and his American Boy persona took on a Gallic charm, complete with Jacques Brel flourishes. It was unexpected, but so wonderfully welcome.
Charles Howl and his band last played Liverpool at Psych Fest three years ago, we look forward to his return as a quite different artist, on May 31 at Shipping Forecast.