sat 15/08/2020

CD: Mike Doughty - Yes and Also Yes | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mike Doughty - Yes and Also Yes

CD: Mike Doughty - Yes and Also Yes

Ex-Soul Coughing singer's fourth solo album is as affirmative as its title suggests

Mike Doughty: a man now more comfortable in his own skin?

 Whatever post-modern subtexts and layers of irony may lie behind the title Yes and Also Yes, the fact remains that Mike Doughty’s fourth solo album exudes a sunny positivism that makes a completely literal reading perfectly reasonable. From its opening lyric onwards - “You’re man won’t dance but I will” - this is largely a collection of bouncy, affirmative declarations of intent which find the one-time Soul Coughing front man more comfortable in his own skin than he’s ever been before.

As someone who thought Soul Coughing were the best American rock band of the 1990s, I initially missed the edge-of-darkness tensions: those controlled but crazed vocals intermeshed with nervous white-funk guitar, those dissonant rumbling samples coming in like bad weather, and those far from pedestrian grooves. For once a rock band had succeeded in placing hip-hop within an art-rock context without it sounding weak or forced.

But after several plays, I’m enjoying the new, freshly showered Mike Doughty immensely. It’s harder to write happy songs that aren’t vacuous than write impenetrably enigmatic Dadaist jazz rants that just hang in the air like hashish smoke. Each time I hear “Holiday (What Do You Want?)”, with Rosanne Cash’s mellow flute of a voice juxtaposed to Doughty’s rasping sax of a voice, my eyes start to well up. It’s the breezy melody juxtaposed to something much more personal and real; “You pulled on my sleeve and said, ‘What do you want me to give you? What do you want me to give you?’” How many love songs transcend the clichés of the form? The last one that sent shivers down my spine was Nick Cave’s Hardyesque “Love Letter” of more than a decade ago.

But sublime love songs aside, this is primarily a great pop/rock album, with distinct echoes of early Elvis Costello (“She doesn’t fall in love /She takes hostages”) and - perhaps inevitably, given its New York provenance - Lou Reed. Is it too early to be choosing albums of the year? I think not.

Listen to “Holiday (What Do You Want?)”

Sublime love songs aside, this is primarily a solid, intelligent pop/rock album


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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