For musician Jonathan Coulton, geek culture is alive and going strong. He concocted topical singles such as “Tom Cruise Crazy,” “W’s Duty,” as well as internet favorites such as “Code Monkey,” and “Re: Your Brains.” And voices various characters like mad scientists, zombies, robots, etc, to a nonsense degree, but all with an endearing quality. As a Yale Alumni who left his day job writing software, Coulton has been pursuing music extensively since 2005 all within the confines of his own home and recording gear. Most songs have been recorded on a Mac G4 desktop, from which his website indicates. But with the release of his latest album, Artificial Heart, Coulton leaves his Mac for a more professional studio and formulates a blithely coated narrative about human expression.
There is so much to enjoy about this album. Coulton collaborates with luminary artists including John Roderick of The Long Winters. They share a duet in “Nemeses,” which is about confronting your own worst enemy. Coulton beautifully reworks the track, “Still Alive” lending the lead vocals to Sara Quinn of Tegan and Sara. It’s a track echoing the love of science. As a man who can play a plethora of instruments such as the accordion, harmonica, mandolin, and so forth, he can also translate different languages. In my favorite track titled, “Je Suis Rick Springfield” which is translated I’m Rick Springfield in French, acts as a two-minute ode to quite possibly an icon of his back in the 80’s? No matter, as it pleasantly offers an international flavor of various percussion instruments. I am always a sucker for jazzy xylophones strumming in the background. Coulton serenades with an acapella auto-tuned track, “Nobody Loves You Like Me,” and is amusingly witty with “Glasses.” A little tune about how one is pretty with glasses.
The album is produced by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, one band with whom he is often compared to. Coulton will also be touring with They Might Be Giants now and throughout November. Artificial Heart is a welcoming album that passes by too quickly, but is satisfying with a fresh musical whim about human expression and emotion.
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