Monday, March 29, 2010

Album Review: John Grant - Queen of Denmark

Queen of Denmark is the resurrection of John Grant. After the implosion of his Denver-based band, The Czars, and thoughts of taking his life, Grant got second chance when label mates Midlake offered to provide him with recording time and to be his backing band and he's made the most of the opportunity.

The album, heavily influenced by the 70's with its heapings of flute and fascination with space, is varied in its themes covering everything from love lost and found to pop culture to politics. It sounds as if Grant is surveying his life to establish who he is and it's captivating to listen in on this remarkably honest and frank rediscovery of one's self.

It's obvious that Midlake is the best group of musicians Grant has ever worked with. Their talent breathes life into his songs and their versatility allows him to explore more freely than he has in the past. Still, the best instrument on the record is Grant's voice. He has the smoothest baritone in all of indie rock.

If I had one wish, I would like to hear Grant croon more like he does on “Where Dreams go to Die.” His voice is perfectly suited for lounge-core ballads like this.

Switching between sparse and sonically violent, “Queen of Denmark” is the sound of Grant letting it all out and coming to terms with himself. It's a powerful way to close the album and will ring in your ears.

Queen of Denmark will remind old fans why they loved John Grant and should create new fans. If he keeps making music like this, he won't soon be forgotten again.

John Grant will open for Midlake April 3 at Cat's Cradle. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 day of the show.

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