Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Artificial Heart

Having now purchased and listened to the new Jonathan Coulton album, I am reassured that my first impression of the newly-electrified and studioized JoCo was correct: I very much like his music, and his work is as good or better than his previous stuff, but his live shows suffer from the inevitable "volume problem" -- the plugged-in stuff ends up being played at a level that washes out the melodic subtleties that make his work really touching, as opposed to just clever.

Artificial Heart is really good. Like, really really good. Space Doggity, Always the Moon good. You should buy it now (go here) -- it's $10, which is a fucking steal these days -- and I especially encourage you to listen to Nemeses, Nobody Loves You Like Me, and Glasses if you're on the bubble about it.

JoCo has moved impressively past his "nerd-core" beginnings without forgetting about it or leaving his audience behind, finding a tone and voice that makes him a legitimate breakout threat as a crossover into a broader pop appeal. He's probably not as talented a singer/performer as Lady GaGa (who, sadly, has some serious fucking chops to back up her silly image) or some of the other arguable pop stars of today, but he makes up for it with a much, much more impressive songwriting ability, both lyrically and melodically. And, with the help of his producer John Flansburgh (of They Might Be Giants fame, himself no slouch as a performer/songwriter) he's put together a very, very good platform for his presentation to the bigger audience of consumers.

If you like pop music (and really, who doesn't these days?), then you should get this album. And if you liked JoCo and, like me, were unconvinced that his Dylan Moment was a good choice, then you should buy this album, because he's silenced my criticism pretty impressively.

And really, my opinion is the important one for his career, obviously.