What does Bob Something, aka Robert Ellis Orrall, do? Whatever the hell he wants. His one-man solo project, Monkey Bowl, released its third eclectic pop album, Space, last July on Plastic 350 Records along with Art Circus’ Apples & Oranges and the little bear’s eponymous release. Space, not an album to be pigeonholed, is a diverse, mellow, lyric-driven record that outfits accessible pop in various masks from soft and acoustic (“And You Were a Spaceship,” “For the Hard Days Ahead”) to bright and sparkling (“She’s Got a Smile That Wakes Up the Sun, The World Comes Alive, Put Your Shades On!”).
Orrall, a hit songwriter many times over, writes simply, candidly and classically. On Space, he sings about love, the importance of secrets, spaceships and needing space with a warm, non-abrasive voice not unlike Elvis Costello’s that floats over instrumentation done by himself and several contributors.
The 12-track collection features a rendition of “Ten Nine Eight Seven Six Five Four,” which is on labelmate Art Circus’ Apples & Oranges as well as a hushed, softer rendition of JEFF the Brotherhood’s “The Tropics” that has a delicate piano base. The record leans heavily on piano hooks, like “The Secret Life of Secrets,” and one of the best is the distinct outlier, even on this mish-mash album, “You All,” with its wiry guitar and retro pop rhythm.
As with all Monkey Bowl output, Space is a multiform assortment of words and melodies that happened to strike the fancy of Bob Something, which is precisely the appeal; the variety of the record is its charm.
Listen to: “Everything I Saw, I Liked,” “The Secret Life of Secrets,” “You All,” “Stupid” – Jessica Pace