King James Version
I fell in love with the new Harvey Danger record the minute I heard the opening lines of the opening song, “Meetings with Remarkable Men (Show Me the Hero).” Any band that has both the guts and the wit to start their album with the lines “I had a lovely brunch with Jesus Christ/He said ‘two words about inanity: fundamental christianity’/The food was very nice/But then He had to go and die for my sins and stick my ass with the check” gets my undying respect and admiration. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that singer Sean Nelson then ges on to sing about Morrissey and Kip Winger with equal fervor, or that the song is a stripped-down, raucous power popper in the vein of the best stuff on the latest Presidents of the United States of America disc. Yep, “Meetings” set high expectations for the rest of King James Version. Fortunately, those expectations were met.
While nothing on the record tops “Meetings,” in my book, there are still 11 more songs here that give it a good run for its money. The literate and often witty lyrics are filled with asides and quotes, and Nelson delivers them with a casual reality, so that it often feels very intimate, like you’re spying on a private conversation. Musically, most of the record has an energetic power pop feel that I love, but the exceptions to this only add to the overall effect of the album — like the sad, indie rockish “Why I’m Lonely,” the dissonant yet ironically cinematic “(Theme From) Carjack Fever,” or the Lennonesgue piano and strings ballad “Pike St./Park Slope.”
Other favorites include “Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” “Authenticity” (with backing vocals from Grant Lee Phillips), and “This is the Thrilling Conversation You’ve Been Waiting For,” which grabs you the same way “Flagpole Sitta” did, without ever sounding like a direct clone. This King James Version is certainly more entertaining than the one you’ll find in church, and probably says a lot more about life today than that other one does, too. Highly recommended.
London Records, 936 Broadway, New York, NY 10010, http://www.harveydanger.com.