Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards and Holland/Dozier/Holland are some of the most recognisable writing credits in popular music lore. Holloway/de Zoet/Moss, the songwriting combo behind fictional 1960s rock-folk-blues band Utopia Avenue, will be less familiar to readers. Each chapter of David Mitchell’s superb eighth novel, the account of Utopia Avenue’s rise and fall, is presented like a track on an LP, with the songwriter’s name appended in parentheses after the title – first a Moss track, then a Holloway number, then one by de Zoet, and so on. Together they amount to some of Mitchell’s finest material.
Utopia Avenue is the multi-style band fit for the multi-style author. Jasper de Zoet crafts virtuoso psychedelic rock, Elf Holloway does confessional folk, while Dean Moss provides classic rock jams, just as Mitchell can modulate from tricksy (this is a typically metafictional, intertextual affair) to intimate (the characters are deeply