Harcourt’s Blues

ED HARCOURT at Top o' the Senator (249 Victoria), Monday (March 25). $15. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNNed harcourt is the.

ED HARCOURT at Top o’ the Senator (249 Victoria), Monday (March 25). $15. 416-870-8000.

Rating: NNNNN

ed harcourt is the first to ad-mit that he’s bored with the melancholy pop tinkling of his wildly praised Here Be Monsters album.It’s not that the music’s bad. Far from it. The disc wavers between sensitive and stripped-down, piano-driven ballads and elaborate, Dave Fridmann-engineered art rock. Brian Wilson likes the record, and Harcourt’s full-length debut was shortlisted for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize.

The problem is that the Brighton singer/songwriter is restless. Here Be Monsters appeared in England almost nine months ago, and despite the disc’s belated North American release March 26, Harcourt’s infinitely more interested in talking about the album he’s just finished recording, much to his record label’s irritation.

“I’m in the middle of mixing my new album, and it’s, uh,” Harcourt starts from Austin before trailing off and covering the phone with his hand.

“Apparently, I’m not allowed to talk about the new record. Hold on while I walk over here.

“I recorded it last year with Tchad Blake at Real World. It’s absolutely mad. There are songs that sound like Dennis Wilson and others that are a mix between Prince and Beefheart. It’s so much better than Here Be Monsters. I get so excited when I’m talking about it, which pisses the label off because they want me to be talking about the old album.”

You can understand Harcourt’s frustration. The 23-year-old claims to have written more than 400 songs already, insists all of them are brilliant and is quickly realizing that unless you’re a proven name like his idol Tom Waits and have the freedom to release two albums at once, most of those tunes are going to sit in a vault.

“There’s a lot of stuff, and it’s all different,” Harcourt confirms. “There are also 50 songs that haven’t been completed as well as loads of instrumental stuff. It drives me crazy that you can only put out 12 songs every two years. I can’t choose, so I record everything on four-track, send it to the label and then they pick.

“The whole process of writing songs seems so easy. I don’t want to be arrogant, but it seems like there are so many bands that do what they do, and I feel like I can do better than them. Oh shit, that sounds terrible, but I feel like I’m on top of the world at the moment.”mattg@nowtoronto.com

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