It must be a peculiarly difficult thing to be Adam Green. No, really. One year you’re touring the hippest hops dressed as a grubby Robin Hood (or was it Peter Pan?), playing songs about internet porn and doing interviews about drinking your bandmates’ piss. Then, as the solo years kick in, everyone’s expecting you to continue with all that naïve smirking acoustic whimsy until the day Geoff Travis decides that you did this sort of thing much better with the rabbit by your side and drops you like a basket of flaming giraffe turds. And I suppose there must be an age-old argument about continuity brewing underneath here somewhere but, while he’s hardly bought an expensive Roland Squelchmeister 3000 and run off to Europe to create progressive psy-gabba, this album isn’t entirely the sort of thing our correspondent was prepared for.
And, well, amen to that. Because, whilst Moldy Peaches thankfully brought anti-folk to the (relative) masses, it’s ridiculous to think that neither of its members should take things up a few gears – which is undoubtedly what Jacket Full Of Danger does. Sure, it’s not entirely unrecognisable to his previous albums; they’re lyrically lateral and generally linear enough to register as his sort of style. But whereas up until now he’s sounded like the sort of singer you’d find crawling the subways of New York making up songs about the passers-by on the spot just so they’d give him their spare change quicker, this album is ultimately Green Does Vegas. The boyish drawl has been developed into a bombastic full-on croon, and not long after ‘Pay The Toll’ rolls in you can envisage the author besuited and serenading a perplexed crowd trying to let their lobster dinners digest properly.
Granted, more often than not the album seems almost a bit too tongue-in-cheek – like his tongue’s slashed itself out of the side of his face and is waggling in your lughole, say - due to the scope of the whole thing. ‘Novotel’ for instance, with its mentions of smoking crack and hanging in alleyways, makes it sound like one of those Richard Cheese takes on hip-hop, only without the obviousness of the irony to fall back on. In places, such as the tale of explicit drug abuse called…well, ‘Drugs’, you’re unsure whether to laugh at the blatancy of it or weep at the seriousness of the subject matter. Plus, with a lot of the songs clocking in at under two minutes, even whilst seemingly trying to tackle such a soaring sort of genre, it’s as if Adam is constantly running out of steam rather than mercifully leaving out the filler.
But overall it’s pleasantly like listening to a lost Bobby Darin or Andy Williams recording session where they took the wrong medication for shits and giggles, and the addition of the string section does mean that there’s a much more satisfying sound for Green to wrap musings around. At other times there’s a much broader set of influences than it seems to immediately make out: ‘C-Birds’ has a slightly unsettling vocal chant babbling throughout; ‘Hollywood Bowl’ swaggers perkily but melancholically like a Sun Records hit that never was; ‘Jolly Good’ is a slightly twee lonesome-travellin’ urban country ballad, oxymoron as that is; and, most surprisingly, ‘White Women’ could easily be passed off as Eighties Matchbox trying to recreate Metallica’s ill-advised strings album S & M and, mercifully, failing in spectacular potty-mouthed fashion.
Yep, it’s Adam Green alright. But, in a fittingly perverse way, he’s gained a new sort of accessibility by becoming even more adventurous. You’ve been a wonderful audience tonight…
7Thomas Blatchford's Score