Thursday, 5 August 2021

2021 Contenders: It's That Man Again

The arrival of a new John Grant album is always a cause for excitement around these parts, since he's nabbed my Album of The Year badge on numerous occasions over the past decade.

Despite ever-high expectations, The Boy From Michigan doesn't disappoint, making it a strong contender for this year's crown. You may have read elsewhere that this is his "most autobiographical record to date", which considering some of his past, brutally soul-bearing efforts is quite a statement... but I think what those reviewers are talking about is the fact that John's delving into his past more than usual here, specifically his teenage years. And while his love of 80s electronica mixed with Billy Joel balladeering is still in evidence (complete with those witty, heartfelt, and at times scathing lyrics that set him apart), he also shows off a great love of 70s Beach Boys on this nostalgia-fest too... 

We'll ride the Zipper and the Tilt-A-Whirl
We'll watch the cotton candy twist and swirl
We'll ride the Matterhorn and the double Ferris-Wheel
We love to listen to the screams and the squeals
And it's hard to believe that the things we are seeing are real

There's a heartbreaking twist to this tune, as young John gets taken to The County Fair by the older kids... but then he's too young to go on any of the rides.

Cindy takes my hand as I start to cry
They say I'm too small and they won't let me ride
I looked up at the Zipper as it twisted and writhed
I saw all the lights reflected in their eyes

I will never forget the things I saw that night
I felt so much love and everything was alright
And she said, "C'mon, we're goin' to the county fair
You can ride with us or we can meet you there"


  1. Not really a fan but am featuring a song I like from this album on Saturday

  2. Love the dreamy, swirly sound of County Fair.

  3. Looking forward to hearing this properly.
    Queen Of Denmark was a very special album. Pale Green Ghost fell a bit short. Subsequent releases have become less and less re-played. But this one is sounding pretty fine - just need the CD for that proper old-fashioned (luddite?) listening experience rather than dipping in and out of Spotify

  4. I've been listening to this several times a week since it came out. Might be my favourite JG album yet and that's saying something. Getting Cate Le Bon in to produce was inspired and whilst her musical influence is prominent, the album both progresses from and harks back to previous albums. I love the individual songs but agree with Rigid Digit, this is one that definitely benefits from the full album listening experience.

  5. RD & Khayem... he's definitely an album artist... although it does seem to be getting increasingly difficult to buy physical copies of new records. I may have more to say about this soon...


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