Despite what you might think, Goon is not entirely self-referential. Tobias Jesso Jr. plays the piano, backed up by an orchestral arrangement that brings out the finest subtleties in this kid’s compositions. The record is filled with sweet and introspective pop songs that will comfort you while you drink your hot chocolate and its raining outside.
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If you are going to be a plaintive singer songwriter these days, it’s best to come with a haunting, tragic backstory (check), have a mop of luscious curly hair (check) and sound like you were the sort of doomed singer songwriter that existed in 1974 before meeting a grisly end (check).
Many men have split up with their girlfriends over the years and many have written songs about it - Jesso is just the latest in a long line but this hasn’t stopped the likes of Adele from singing his praises. That praise should tell you where this is coming from - it’s mainstream piano-led singer songwriter guff that sounds at many times like Neil Innes impersonating John Lennon - on “How Could You Babe” the earnestness is almost comedic. It also recalls tragic ‘70’s troubadours like Nilsson and Eric Carmen and songs like “Without You” (ha!) are decently nicely constructed and have a plaintive turn of phrase.
It’s Lennon-aping is certainly preferable to the McCartney schmaltz of ‘Can We Still Be Friends” and it’s fair to say that you are going to struggle with it if you can’t stand solo ex Beatles ballads but my main issue with the album is that I simply don’t believe him. This is a man who has decided to be a melancholic piano man and it feels like he is doing impressions rather than showing his true voice.
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- Goon by Tobias Jesso Jr.
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