Tobias Jesso, Jr., “Goon”

Tobias_Jesso_Jr.-2015-Goon-Cover_ArtTobias Jesso, Jr.
Goon
MATADOR/TRUE PANTHER SOUNDS
7/10 

The mainstream version of “indie music” seems to have shifted from fuzz-drenched emotional cloudiness to more straight-shooting, heart-on-your-sleeve fare in recent years. At the forefront of this new wave is Los Angeles (by way of Vancouver) singer-songwriter Tobias Jesso, Jr., whose debut LP is full of power ballads, or, perhaps more suitably, power laments. Homespun tracks and demos, such as soul howler “How Could You Babe” or seldom heard, stand-alone touching domestic portrait “True Love,” circumvent soft rock’s empty platitudes as they transition to Jesso’s full-length studio efforts. The Harry Nilsson–esque novelty track “Crocodile Tears” bounces along with a infectious honky-tonk beat, and “Can We Still Be Friends” is Jesso’s spot-on Paul McCartney impersonation, right down to vocal artifices and a swooping string quartet. Elsewhere, “The Wait” is a beautiful acoustic guitar track reminiscent of Big Star’s best. Jesso may proudly wear his influences, but he possesses a candor not usually heard from other indie artists. That quality bears fruit on Goon.

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