Even as a concept it seems simply to good to be true. John Grant, former frontman and creative force for the brilliant, late and oh-so lamented Denver cult band The Czars, teaming up with the equally wonderful Lone Star mavens of 70's retropop panache Midlake? It's true -- and yes, it's beyond good. Grant's April 6 debut album Queen of Denmark, like the recently-released Midlake album The Courage of Others, is permeated with classic pop and rock elements and elegance. It is also an album of personal redemption for an artist who has dealt with his own demons of depression and addiction and a tale of artistic friendship. "What those guys did for me," says Grant of his Denton, TX pals, "I can't thank them enough."
Recorded and co-produced by Midlake bassist Paul Alexander and guitarist Eric Pulido during their own Courage sessions, Queen has a stately 70's art-pop reverence that nonetheless is never dry or dusty -- or overly saccharine. From early King Crimson artiness to Cat Stevens introspection to Fleetwood Mac melodic bliss, the music promises inspiration not imitation. Lead track "TC and Honeybear" takes a mellow pop/folk swoon and turns it into a minor Moody Blues-ian epic, all dramatic minor chords, a celestial soprano vocal and a lush flute solo from Midlake frontman Tim Smith. "I Wanna Go to Marz" recites a litany of sweet tooth "favorite things" (from hot fudge, butterscotch, lemon freezes, etc.) on top of a tinkling Tubular Bells-styled piano line, Grant's voice a perfectly rich, bittersweet counterpoint to the alluring and delicate flute and strings backing. Highly recommended.
John Grant - "TC and Honeybear" (from the album Queen of Denmark)
John Grant - "I Wanna Go to Marz" (from the album Queen of Denmark)