I would normally title a review about a new album with the album title, but given that Pii 3 is the final in an outstanding trilogy of exceptional pop music, I felt the need to declare loudly and proudly that Stephen Solo, AKA Stephen Farrell, is a genius.
The trilogy has songs that discuss and confront love, birth, parenthood, aspiration, reality - often grim, the use of humour to get by, getting older, relationships, escapism ... the way Solo portrays his thoughts, dreams, fears and the dark reaches of his mind is unique.
Some songs will jump out on first listen, others will reveal their true worth with patience, but dig deep and you’ll find Albarn-seque melodies, Beatles-y harmonies and sonic adventurousness.
You'll find out more about how Stephen writes and records in a forthcoming podcast interview I have planned with him.
I Ate A Motorcycle was the lead single for the album. If the title doesn't generate your interest then the flow and melodies soon will. The way this song changes and flows from 2-minutes in is simply magical, the way Solo plays with the melody and phrasing, introducing sprinkling synths is joyful.
The song titled Sweetest Melody jumped to my attention as this is a guy who knows a melody. It is gentle, soothing, becoming Beatles-y, dreamy and like it could be from a musical.
The Beatles and The Beach Boys crossed with Gorillaz is my attempt to describe Something Like Nothing Like Love. I marvel at the structure, lead vocals and harmonies. Everything is Solo.
The Dark Web could be a title for a book, TV show or film. Here is the theme tune. Dark, experimental, crazy, but with yet another soaring chorus. There is another glorious change in pace in this song with a Drive style bass introduced.
The closing The Digital Dead brought tears to my eyes on first listen, the way Solo revisits Behind Your Eyes is tender and gorgeous, singing about his son in the most beautiful way, before ending the Pii trilogy the way it began. The final melancholic melody will melt your heart.
Stephen Solo is a genius. Assess the evidence.
The Pii trilogy is available digitally via all the usual platforms.