Year of the Album — #055
Mike Doughty – “Yes and Also Yes” (2011, Snack Bar / Mega Force / Sony RED)
“She doesn’t fall in love, she takes hostages,” Mike Doughty sings on “The Huffer and the Cutter,” which may well be his finest song in years, its sounds digging their way into your brain like meth-coated dark pop candy for the Breaking Bad generation. Needless to say, there’s plenty of reason to rejoice here the return of this erstwhile Soul Coughing frontman.
The album, however, also sums up what it’s like to be a fan of one of alternative pop’s most wicked wordsmiths. Is Mike Doughty a modern rock prophet of cool? And is his latest album at the same time something a mixed bag of sublime hits and experimental half-song misses? The answer is Yes and Also Yes. The album plays quickly, and is chock-full of Doughty’s rapid-fire musings. But four of the songs come in at fewer than two minutes in length, barely giving him time to grab our attention with a coherent thought, let alone hook us with any ear candy.
But lyrically he’s at the top of his game, particularly on “Day By Day By,” which lures you in and then takes over your mind by pure power of his tongue’s dexterity:
The future is old news!
Some ruse, the choice you choose
Decked out like a financier
Feckless like the fox you fear
Yeah, for the trophy cult
The University of Prom Queen Runners Up
Drowse in the immesureable
Pleather and wool
It’s a headier pull
No chance! Lose your trance
Napping like a sycophant
Where the fuck else can you ever find anything this mindbendingly twisty? Words bend and flip through the stutter-step beats and mild pulses of synth. He’s a pied-piper for those of us who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want our music to be catchy and yet still find ways to say something profound … or at least something which feels profound when we’re listening.
Too bad half the album sounds like mere experiments, because Yes and Also Yes has the makings of Doughty’s finest solo record since Haughty Melodic. There’s an EP’s worth of spectacular material, and it speaks to Doughty’s talent that an EP’s worth of material is almost good enough. “Day By Day By” and “The Huffer and the Cutter” will go down as two of the better crafted pop songs of the year. The rest of the album is a holdover until Doughty can pull together enough material for our next fix.