Sunday, November 27, 2011

John Grant Knows the Queen of Denmark

Wow. I haven't heard a record like John Grant's Queen of Denmark in a very, very long time. Sounding something like a combination of Divine Comedy, Harry Chapin, and my parents easy listening record collection, John Grant clearly isn't from this decade and quite possibly this century. Wrapped in a turtleneck and a cardigan, I'm sure, Grant weaves a hypnotizing sort of pop tune that croons along with a deep sense of introspection and love.

Queen of Denmark is a moody and emotional record that's lush, dramatic and almost certain to make you tear up. Grant's baritone voice warbles at all the right times and sounds as if he's just about had it. This is the sound of love gone wrong, of life gone awry and the sound of wondering why we all put ourselves through this kind of thing. According to Gran's bio, much of Queen of Denmarkis a last-ditch attempt at self-improvement and atonement after a decade of alcohol and cocaine dependency. That's important, because you can hear his struggle in every word, and every note and that's what makes this record a heart wrenching work of art.

And yet, despite all that potential depression and emotional trauma, the songs are wrapped in an opulent atmosphere that harks back to the over the top productions of so many of the 70's easy listening and soft rock artists. It's almost excess trying to top excess here and for the most part it succeeds. Queen of Denmark isn't an upbeat record by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, this is a deeply thrilling and intimate record that's loaded with so much impassioned weight it just about breaks in half.

A pop album yes, but a pop album on it's last leg; that's pretty much Queen of Denmark in a nutshell. The feel good hit of the spring this is not, but it is a good record that will leave you stunned, silent, and moved. This is an album of redemption and rebirth that's stuck in the 70's waiting for the hedonism to end. It's great stuff but it's the sort of record that you most definitely do not want to listen to after a bad day, break up, etc. Long live the Queen of Denmark long may her cardigans reign supreme.

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