CD Review: John Grant with Midlake – Queen of Denmark; Playing with Midlake @ Black Cat, April 4

John Grant

Queen of Denmark

By Eric Chavez

John Grant’s debut disc, Queen of Denmark introduces a man with a delicate voice and one hell of an imagination. With lyrics that cover everything from religion to using people for sex, the LP’s ideas cover just about every area, but are steadily tied by the songwriter. Bounded together with the sounds of early ’70s AM radio, even the most obscene lyrics are somehow aren’t as shocking as they could be, and that’s  because of the charming sound to them.

“TC and Honeybear” sets the tone of the album with its easy-breezy feel. Heavy on the folk side, the album fills the ears with the softer side of story song-themed records. Every tale is completely different, one more deranged than the other. The album’s closer, ”Queen of Denmark,” tells the tale of a man lost on his way, and seemingly never finds himself. Telling his lover he “pissed” in their coffee and that they only want sex from each other isn’t the most charming memento, but Grant seems so nonchalant about it, you can’t help but laugh.

“It’s Easier” takes the cake for the most radio-friendly of the pack. A sullen track about the end of a relationship, the song shows Grant at his most vulnerable. “Chicken Bones” tosses the album in the opposite direction lyrically and musically, with a little Beatles-sound thrown into the folksy mix. “Sigourney Weaver” would get the crown as the queen of the most obscure songs in the world. A song about feeling like the actress when she had to kill the aliens … what else is there to say?

“Jesus Hates Faggots” perhaps the most striking titles of the bunch, is more social commentary than anything else. Grant seems to have a keen eye to see how religion is used to justify hatred. “Caramel” sweetens things up with Grants most impressive vocal performance and the comical use of the cheapest retro-electronica samples.

By the end of the journey you take along with John Grant on his debut, you have a strange feeling that no matter how odd his lyrics can get, there is something we can all relate to. Haven’t we all felt like Sigourney Weaver when she had to kill those aliens? Be honest. With Queen of Denmark, John Grant is on his way to musical royalty.

John Grant plays Black Cat with Midlake on April 4.

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