Tobias Jesso Jr.: Goon (True Panther) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tobias Jesso Jr.


True Panther

Mar 13, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Perhaps 2015 is the year that Dad Rock becomes officially cool as opposed to a running gag. Steely Dan is a featured band at Coachella, Billy Joel is headlining Bonnaroo, and Kanye West has fallen hopelessly in love with the melodic charms of Paul McCartney. Add to that artists like Jessica Pratt and Natalie Prass, who owe plenty of debt to ‘70s singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Carole King, and you might find that suddenly your old man’s dusty vinyl collection doesn’t seem quite so lame.

Apparently singer Tobias Jesso Jr. has discovered the same thing. Listening to his debut record, Goon, you might wonder if you’ve heard some of this beforelike, on a road trip with your parents in 1988. You’ll hear a hint of Billy Joel (“Crocodile Tears”), Randy Newman (“Can We Still Be Friends”), Harry Nilsson (“How Could You Babe”), and, as chronicled by Stereogum, the Cheers theme song on pretty much the whole damn thing.

If you’re rolling these eyes at these references: stop it. Jesso (and the rest of us, for that matter) doesn’t have time for cooler-than-thou posturinghe’s too busy creating music that’s so earnest you can’t help but bob your head and sing along. Goon finds its heart and soul in Jesso’s total lack of self-consciousness in both music and lyrics. “Can We Still Be Friends” is literally about losing a friend and then trying to reconcile. It would be cheesy…except it’s happened to you. “The Wait” is about wanting to kiss someone but being frustrated at having just met them and having to wait. And “How Could You Babe”I mean, that’s pretty self-explanatory, right?

Sometimes the album suffers a bit from how cohesive the themes (and some of the music) are, making it hard to pick one song out from another, but it’s a minor complaint. Plus, there’s something refreshing about how guileless these songs are. There aren’t any tricky metaphors or stream-of-consciousness poetryit’s just a guy on his piano with his heart on his sleeve. It might be a dorky relic of the past, but maybe that’s what makes it cool. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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