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P. Hux | Purgatory Falls (NineEighteen)
Since making a big impression with his debut in1995 with the aptly titled 'Deluxe,' one of the power pop albums of the 90s, P. Hux has been somewhat conspicuous by his absence. When you learn that singer songwriter Parthenon Huxley lost his wife Janet, to brain cancer little more than a year after the album's release it isn't difficult to understand the reason behind that absence. She was the inspiration behind many of the euphoric love songs on 'Deluxe.' A respected and influential figure in pop circles, Huxley's own output may not have been particularly prolific since making his debut under his own name in 1988 with 'Sunny Nights,' but he has kept himself busy either as a collaborator with like-minded artists producing and co-writing or performing with the likes of E (a pre-Eels Mark Everett) and Kyle Vincent amongst others. Since 1998 he's also been the singer and guitarist in the questionable ELO II. P. Hux drummer Gordon Townsend later joined Huxley in ELO II following the departure of Bev Bevan and the prospect of a new album of original material with Huxley as an integral part of the equation sounds very interesting. I have a sneaking feeling that there are a quite a few people out there who regard the original ELO as guilty pleasure and will be similarly enticed. In the meantime Huxley has felt suitably inspired to reactivate P. Hux, following several years away to record 'Purgatory Falls,' a 10 song tribute to his late wife. Taking its title from the name of her family farm in New Hampshire, it could also be interpreted as a metaphor representing the emotional turmoil in the wake of her tragic death. Almost bordering on the voyeuristic at times, these often lyrically harrowing, brutally honest reflections on love, life and death on the likes of Rubble, My Sweet Nothing and Red Eyeliner are frequently an uncomfortable listen. However, Huxley ultimately succeeds in conveying his true feelings, both good and bad via his excellent arrangements utilising alternately crunching and chiming guitars, mournful strings and an array of other subtle instrumentation to make a lasting impression on the listener as excellent pop music with both emotion and depth. Hopefully the release of 'Purgatory Falls' brings to a close his self imposed, albeit understandable spell out of the spotlight as well as revealing what a wonderful craftsman we've been missing. Welcome back.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002