As well as being responsible for an all-time favourite quote in Esquire (involving “turd” and “sticky toffee pudding”, April 2013), US musician John Grant has produced two of the most acclaimed albums of recent years in 2010’s Queen of Denmark and 2013’s Pale Green Ghosts. With his knack for pendulous, lush Seventies melodies and droll lyrical references to the mundane, it wasn’t hard to hear why.
His third album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is, at first, a harder sell: angrier, weirder, more experimental, the blousy ballads fight for elbow-room with spiky electro numbers. Grant delivers some songs in his resonant vibrato, others in an Iggy Pop growl that makes him sound like a shrubland sex pest.
But that doesn’t mean the pickings aren’t rich, or hilarious. There’s the sexy cowboy-drawl rant of “You & Him”, with a rousing chorus of “You and Hitler ought to get together/You ought to learn to knit and wear matching sweaters”; there’s the terrified goth-horror of “Magma”, which may refer to Grant’s junkie era; and there’s the epically orchestrated title track, referencing haemorrhoid cream ads and seemingly about his misery at contracting HIV in 2011.
Trust us, you’ll like him when he’s angry.
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is out on 2 October (Bella Union)