LOVE IS MAGIC
Love is magic, declares John Grant on the title observe of his fourth studio report.
It could be too straightforward to dismiss the cookie-cutter assertion if not for the truth that the Michigan-born native additionally acknowledges in an interview that “love’s a sh**show that requires work, it’s not all lollipops and rainbows and ’67 Dodge Dart Hemis and STDs and macaroni and cheese and John Carpenter”.
“Have you got depression?/Passive aggression?/Did they stop loving you?/And you’re the only one who doesn’t know?” he sings in his caramel-smooth tenor, using the razor blade between sentimentality and merciless realisation.
Such is the contrarian air that surrounds this album, which dives into electro-pop with unabashed relish. It is as if he has frolicked within the company of acts akin to Devo, Fischerspooner, and Hercules and Love Affair.
This is an attractive, smarty-pants report that smarts and seduces. Grant’s corrosive wit is sharpened within the observe Diet Gum, the place he takes goal at an ex-boyfriend, talking plainly: “Do you know what a collective noun is, Stupidzilla?… your group would be called a misery, or, no, a patheticness of f***wits.”
The music begins with a nod to Michael Jackson’s bass-driven Billie Jean, earlier than he switches to a robotic drone: “I manipulate, that is what I do/I manipulate, it’s rather easy with you.”
It is Kraftwerk gone acid.
Public figures should not spared both. He lacerates “anyone who has embraced ambition, run amok and bragged”.
The music strikes like slo-mo apocalyptic dread slathered over with fantastic guilt, with four/four beats peppered all through escalating synths.
Grant has perfected the artwork of uneasy listening, inviting you to the dance flooring and making you all antsy. He’s Got His Mother’s Hips sashays on depraved wordplay and foolish rhyme. “He’s got his mother’s hips/He does the dippity-dip/He’s got delicious quips,” goes the funky come-hither, a spunky proclamation of id in opposition to disapproving eyes.
Is it a satire or a celebration? No one is aware of.
Such hard-earned pleasure additionally underscores the comeback in opposition to the bully in Preppy Boy. Backed by retro disco squelches and hyper-kinetic synths, he taunts: “Come on now, preppy boy/If you got an opening, then I am unemployed.”
It is a state of affairs the place he will get his final revenge.
The hot-headed fantasia involves a head within the final observe, the 1970s-sounding piano ballad the place he serenades Chelsea Manning, the previous United States Army intelligence analyst turned WikiLeaks activist who transitioned to a girl whereas in jail.
“Chelsea is a butterfly, she metamorphosised… you can’t stop the process of the truth, try as you might,” he sings.
Truth and dare, Grant has accomplished each.