In an age where it seems that the mainstream seems to be filled with more and more singer-songwriters who gradually seem to have less and less in terms of their own identity, it’s a great pleasure that this year seems to see the return of some of the best singer-songwriters returning like Laura Marling as well as other ones who are just getting the recognition they deserve like Father John Misty. Tobias Jesso Jr is the latest in the line of promising new artists who seem to genuinely interested in making compositions that are interesting instead of relying on the melodrama that so many of the more popular singer songwriters do these days.
For this Tobias takes influence from some of the greats, and his song structures are often similar to that of The Beatles. More specifically they’re similar to the side of The Beatles that Paul McCartney had control over. Rarely the boundary pushing side of their music but the side that relied heavily on melody. This is evident on tracks like ‘We Can Still Be Friends’ where his vocals sound more similar to McCartney’s especially with a vocal melody that sounds similar to ‘Yesterday’ in spots.
On all of the tracks on ‘Goon’ Tobias’ compositions are low-key concentrating on the subtleties more than the grandness of the actual music itself. Tobias is a talented musician and one that’s been practising his entire life to have the opportunity to show off how brilliant a musician he is. It’s good then, that he decides to still use a large variety of instrumentation without overdoing it. The drum tempos are always very slow and nearly every single song is fronted by his lush piano playing. This structure that he’s built his songs around allows for his fantastic knack for writing a great vocal melody to be accompanied by other instrumentation to complement it like the strings that play along side him on spots on the track ‘For You’. Although the instrumentation itself isn’t grand he does have some choruses that really feel grand.
The lyricism itself revolves around the well told tales of love and misery that’s being sold to the masses now more than ever. He doesn’t so much as to just use it as a way to emotionally manipulate people like so many do, these lyrics do seem to come from a genuine place. even on the more cheesy moments like the fake crying on ‘Crocodile Tears’ aren’t enough to be a turn off. The lyrics don’t always match up to how sonically fantastic this record can be at times such as the obvious rhyme schemes like rhyming ‘girl’ with ‘world’, but they’re never bad. Tobias always has a way of delivering his words in a way that sound unbelievably smooth and genuine. He could be singing about anything and it would still be aesthetically pleasing. This is made even better because this album is recorded in a way that sounds vintage, almost like an old demo tape at times.
He doesn’t have the wit of Father John Misty, or the ability to make music quite as beautifully intimate as Laura Marling, but Tobias Jesso Jr has put forward a stellar debut album. One that introduces us to a man who sounds like he’s been trying to perfect his craft for a long time. He hasn’t quite perfected it yet, but he’s put together an album that’s worth repeat listens for the occasion moments of sonic beauty.
Best Tracks: Hollywood, For You, We Can Still Be Friends