Sunday, September 17, 2006

Don Lennon - Routine

From the in-case-you-missed-it file: Don Lennon's Routine from last fall has been a slow and steady grower on us. You just can't pin down his ultra-droll, meta-ironic, totally unique indiepop. It keeps givng and giving.

Don Lennon has four albums, but we'd only been familiar with his third, Downtown, which consists mostly of sly, subtle jabs at pop culture, including two songs about Dave Matthews, one from Dave's perspective ("even after all we've accomplished, it's like we're just getting started...we have so much room to grow"). Fun songs, but nothing that got too far under your skin.

Lennon's upped the ante on Routine, his bone-dry Jonathan Richman/Jens Lekman-like croon cutting much closer to the quick. The running theme on this album is stand-up comedy; on "Last Comic Standing", we hear his reaction to a John Ritter TV retrospective, and then on the low opinion comics have of acts with props ("that's one thing about comics/they take their work seriously"). On "What SNL Stands For", his ironic-or-not take on Jimmy Fallon: "he plays guitar/he's got a CD/I've heard it, the guy can really sing/and he's got this problem that lots of guys I know have/he can't keep from giggling".

There's a sort of sad story, possibly autobiography, running through the disc, though, a sarcastic takedown or hide-behind-humor lament (your pick) of privileged young-adult malaise (think Noah Baumbach's film Kicking and Screaming). From "Best Years of Our Lives" ("those were the best years of our lives but we made do/we held lacrosse sticks like bass guitars and microphones") to the minor-chord "Trust Fund" ("well have you heard about the trust fund?/it's the latest craze/seem like everybody's doing it 'nowdays/it's a pretty easy thing to do/'fact it doesn't even depend on you"), you wonder: is he singing about himself or others? Either way, it's the funniest/saddest song about trust funds you'll hear this year.

The most explicity serious and personal song on the disc is the closer, "The Death of My Imagination", where he sings "well I really don't know what I thought/I think I thought I'd be an artist/and just like a lot of young people I guess/I pictured myself in the Village/stumbling out of dark bars late at night/in love with the hustle and bustle/laughing out loud with a handful of friends/a little bit like Keri Russell/that was all before the death of my imagination". But even then we're not quite sure how much he means it; is he making fun of people like this? Or is it him?

We can't recommend this record enough (seriously). Buy it here, and keep an eye out for his new disc, Radical, coming soon.

MP3: Don Lennon - My Resume
Stream: Several songs


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