But for his new album (Spooked, on Yep Roc), the master of the non sequitur has turned to some unexpected collaborators: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. These Americana sweethearts actually aren't such odd bedfellows for this set of twilight-hour, acoustic-centered tunes.
Not that this old Soft Boy has gone all sensitive. Subtly unsettling songs like "Demons & Fiends," "Creeped Out," and "We're Gonna Live in the Tree" cloaks Spooked in an eerie air. Hitchcock, however, hasn't forsaken his trademark offbeat humor. "Television" stands out as a gorgeous-sounding "love song" to that ubiquitous home-entertainment device, which he calls the "devil's fishbowl," and the spoken-word quickie "Welcome to Earth" is prime Hitchcock absurdity. Live, his hilarious song intros are the stuff of legend -- surreal roller-coaster rides through his delightfully cracked cranium (Being Robyn Hitchcock, anyone?). He's still crazy after all these years.