Sometimes, really great ideas go astray. All of My Friends, the sophomore release from singer/songwriter Goat, is a great example of that.
The album is impossible to pigeonhole; the songs shift from rock with electronic undertones to funk to a rockabilly twang and then back around to good old pop with nary a breath between. During a few unfortunate moments, all those subgenres are jammed together in the space of a single breath, and the result is at times more of a mess than anything else. Songs should flow smoothly from one moment to the next; if a jarring shift in the style or the music occurs, it’s likely to throw the listener right out of the reverie of the tune. The title track on All of My Friends, as well as “Angel,” are both guilty of this. During the first run-through of “Angel,” I actually checked to make sure my CD player wasn’t skipping; I thought I’d bumped right to the next song.
Occasionally, however, it works out. And it certainly worked out enough to get Goat’s song “Great Life” picked up to advertise the Kia Sportage in their 2005 television campaign. “Far” suits Goat’s spoken-word style very well, and the dreamy beat rides with the vocal rather than against it, as is the case with some of the songs on the album. “Fade” actually showcases the fact that Goat can sing — something I wish he would do more often — and features some of the best lyrics on the album.
Ah, the lyrics. And now we get to the real problem with this album. As with everything else here, Goat is extraordinarily uneven. Sometimes, his lyrics ride right on the edge of brilliance (as with “Day at the Races,” which unfortunately, aren’t well-suited to the vocal), and at other times, it makes me think of, well, nursery rhymes. Carrying on with the same thought just because it rhymes, or things that seem a little nonsensical just because they rhyme… a good portion of the lyrics on this album strike me as simply bad writing, or at least, lazy writing.
Bowling for dollars, the art museum
A movie, a bike ride, a long walk
Staying up late having late night talks
-from the title track
Maybe I’m just too picky. I definitely think “bowling for dollars” is the sort of thing that should show up once on an album, if that, and here it shows up in two songs. Perhaps this was a particularly beloved youthful pursuit of Goat’s.
Final verdict: While Goat seems to have a vast knowledge of music and styles, the bits and pieces which show up on All of My Friends rarely form any sort of cohesive theme or song. With jarring beats and uneven vocals, the album as a whole is mediocre. The few standout tracks aren’t enough to vault him into stardom, but they are enough to make this reviewer hope that he does give it another go, as it’ll be interesting to see what he does next.