Next Year In Zion (City Slang)
Cheer Gone (Wichita)
In Our Space Hero Suits (Wichita)

DOES innocence belong in pop music? Discuss.

It’s a proper can of worms, this one. You could argue that rock ‘n’ roll is essentially a ‘knowing’ medium – a world of cheap thrills, quick fixes and illicit substances, designed in the first instance to shut out, repel and appal the older generation.

The term ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ in itself is a hot and sweaty euphemism, is it not? As Philip Larkin mordantly pointed out, ‘sexual intercourse began in 1963... between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP.’ However, even all these years of precocity, promiscuity, rebellion and rehab later, it would appear that there’s still a place for pop music which expresses simple feelings in simple terms, with a tune you can whistle and lyrics which address the human condition in direct, unpretentious terms.

It’s probably no coincidence that the three albums on today’s page have been recorded by acts whose worldview has been formed some substantial distance away from the Good Mixer in Camden. Herman Dune, for example, are a Parisian duo led by songwriter and vocalist David-Ivar Herman Dune, born in Stockholm of Swedish and Jewish descent.

Herman Dune may well have lived in New York on and off for eight years, but you’ll struggle to find any residual trace of inner city grime in their music. Yes, they sound like the Velvets from time to time, but it’s the hushed and spectral Velvets of the third album rather than the unflinching urban diarists and sonic terrorists of 66-67.

Where Lou Reed sounded on the Velvets’ third album as though he had looked into the abyss, got the fright of his life and pulled back, Herman Dune sound as though their own buoyant and guileless personalities have insulated them against ugliness, depravity and all-round bad vibes. Given that they owe a colossal stylistic debt to Jonathan Richman, they still sound entirely natural dispensing the uncomplicated rhyme schemes and cheerfully resolved melodies of When The Sun Rose Up This Morning, My Best Kiss and Baby Baby You’re My Baby.

Since their last album, 2006’s Giant, Herman Dune have lost an umlaut but gained a certain maturity, thanks in no small measure to pretty arrangements which give maximum rein to the John Natchez Bourbon Horn players (on loan from Beirut and The Arcade Fire) and their rather delightful female backing singers, The Babyskins.

As regards avuncular Welsh sage Euros Childs, it seems scarcely believeable that it was 13 years ago when I saw him in Southampton Joiners with his former band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Back then, the members of Gorky’s had scarcely left school, and their albums were filled with giggling mischief and a profound psychedelic undertow – as befits a bunch of early Soft Machine obsessives.

Over time, Gorky’s shed most of their wayward and subversive leanings and gained a calm, bucolic musicality – attributes which Euros Childs has taken with him into his now well-established solo career.

Cheer Gone, recorded in Nashville with Mark Nevers at the engineering helm, “isn’t a country record” according to Euros, but nevertheless boasts a wealth of sympathetic and decorous lap steel, fiddle and banjo backdrops into which the lyrics nestle like old pals. Sing Song Song and Saving Up To Get Married are as irresistibly immediate as anything by Euros’ hero Kevin Ayers, while Farm Hand Murder injects an altogether unexpected note of Appalachian dread.

If the pants haven’t been charmed clean off of you yet, Those Dancing Days will definitely do the trick: a quintet of teenage girls from Sweden whose debut album In Our Space Hero Suits is a masterpiece of uncontrived cool, lit up by swathes of Farfisa organ and sweetly reminiscent of long-gone greats like The Delmontes and Girls At Our Best.