Our most-loved songs are often from a heartbroken man. And while Goon has an undoubtedly autobiographic touch to it, Tobias Jesso Jr at least takes on the persona of any sad lover pining helplessly for what once was. Sure a whole album dedicated to heartbreak has its melodrama, butJesso Jr brought his real-life experience to song writing and the marriage of straight-talk lyrics and a vintage orchestral touch has somewhat of a soundtrack quality.
Goon starts off with a simple piano melody and a touch of wistful sentimentality which sets the scene for the next 12 ballads. Its writer has already been linked to the male greats (such as Harry Nilsson and John Lennon.) Perhaps it’s the subject matter but his vocals range from gentle and mystical (think Lennon’s ‘How’) to more force when required (not unlike ‘Jealous Guy’).
The super slow tempo throughout contributes to the nostalgic feel of the album and a simple approach to instrumentation lets the lyrics shine through: “Have you lost your memories? /Did you wash ‘em down the drain?” There is charm in the simplicity of communication; Jesso Jr sings his feelings as they are.
The album single ‘Without You’ is subtle and hushed that it reads like a love letter: “there is no future I want to see without you.” ‘How Could You Babe’ is also a strong track, where Jesso Jr breaks vocal smoothness and lends his fragility to the sentimental strings.
Goon could be the album which acts as a treatment for heartbreak for those who aren’t so keen on cringe-worthy pop anthems: a new voice of pop storytelling which is romantic yet fragile. He doesn’t shy away from clichés but in expressing himself authentically, Tobias Jesso Jr has crafted songs which feel like they are more familiar than they really are.
Review Score: 7.6 out of 10
Tobias Jesso Jr.'s Goon is out now via True Panther Sounds / Remote Control.