Welcome to the most fun Mike Doughty solo album ever. That’s right. Fun and Doughty. It’s also, in my opinion, his most cohesive album.
The most powerful song on the album, by far, is anti-war anthem Fort Hood, with it’s interpolation of Aquarius (Let the Sun Shine Shine) and it’s powerful couplets: “I see them motionless, coming back, in an airport lounge” and “You should be getting’ stoned with a prom dress world/You should still believe in an endless world.” So powerful, I had to listen to it three times before I could go any deeper into this album.
There’s other gems here, too. In fact, it’s almost like Mike had a point to prove in the way he hits just about every rock album staple: “Like a Luminous Girl” is a sweet and tender love song. “27 Jennifers,” which is an obvious single, is a funny, bouncy pop song. “Navigating by the Stars at Night” is a solid, straightahead country-tinged road song, with a great refrain. “Put It Down” has a na-na-na chorus. He’s even got a semi-rap song (“More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle”).” It’s all here.
I can imagine the reviews now, complaining that Mike’s sold out, gone pop, gotten soft, lame and old, lacks depth, etc. Whatever you read, it’s all bullshit. Perhaps I like this release for the same reason I liked Liz Phair’s eponymous album, which the critics also hated but which I found to be her most even album since her first. Another good example of this could be Mellencamp’s Mr. Happy Go Lucky album, although that one wasn’t nearly as good. Or Aerosmith’s Pump. Like those, Golden Delicious has a “sound,” a theme, an expression. It’s not a bunch of singer-songwriter cuts thrown together in a jumble. Does this mean that the album is what you’d expect from Doughty? Absolutely not. It’s different, it’s new, it feels fresh and alive. Where his prior albums are dark and thoughtful, this one give a shout out to Young Jeezy. I’m going to say it again: This is Mike’s “Liz Phair.” If you can appreciate Liz singing the praises of hot, white come, you should be able to dig a slickly produced Doughty rhyming easy, Japanese-y, and cutesy. I can. I do. And I’m saying this a great record.
It’s a pop record, certainly, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.