Elvis Perkins Ash Wednesday

This is a debut from the "it-list making” son of Hollywood star Anthony Perkins full of long-faced, sad songs laden with personal mythology and watery biblical allusions. To be fair, Perkins has a lot to prove, as his record is being touted (by some) as akin to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, a seminal work of personal vision and experience manifested in song. Ash Wednesday lacks the mysterious, intangibly tantalising glue of Astral Weeks, although all the components are there to make one wish he had such a quality. It suggests discussion of the deeply personal, its melodies are both lilting and melancholic and one gets the sense that Perkins is in earnest putting forth lyrical, poetic ideas. But the tepid drumming and Coldplay-esque controlled vocal strains on the title track leave much to be desired and sound as though they could be from any similar group. Likewise, lyrics like "You are great/yeah/You’re a star/Someday everyone/Will know” and "It’s morning in heaven again” seem too ordinary and middle of the road for a record that’s trying very hard to not be that. These moments and sentiments feel rushed and are likely not indicative of Perkins’ potential as a songwriter with something important to say. (XL)