When Robyn Hitchcock burble blasted his new single, “The Shuffle Man,” in the ionosphere this week, most digital dispatches dutifully noted that it came with the announcement of a new album, the first full-length studio effort from the inner plane groover in five years. That’s the modern convention, but it’s not entirely true to describe it as an announcement. The August issue of Mojo, the best music magazine in the world, wrote all about the new record, Shufflemania!, in the front-of-issue Mojo Working section. It noted that Hitchcock largely recorded the material at home before speeding it across the globe to get guest contributions from the likes of Johnny Marr, Kelly Stoltz, Sean Ono Lennon, and fellow Soft Boys veterans Morris Windsor and Kimberly Rew (the latter taking a break from rolling around in all the money he made from writing the eternal earworm “Walking on Sunshine” to lay down some guitar parts). Brendan Benson pitches in on “The Shuffle Man.”
“I was in the palace of the feathery serpent god in Mexico at Christmas 2019,” Hitchcock told the periodical, characteristically. “Something clicked, and I began to wrote songs… It was like one of those chiropractor things — you get a bone in your back realigned and suddenly the chakras are all there, and the stuff was flowing in a way I like.”
So I knew this song was coming before it took others by surprise this week. I was excited. Then the cut was there, and I was delighted. And now I’m simply satisfied, ever so deeply satisfied. Whatever ills exist in the world, at least there’s still space for a esoteric songwriter of a particularly warped brilliance to still peddle his dandy, jubilant wares.
Shufflemania! is scheduled for release in October.