The Fall of Hobo Johnson – Hobo Johnson

The Fall of Hobo Johnson is unequivocally a masterpiece, one of my go-to recommendations and one of the best albums on this website. (Hobo Johnson is a stage name adopted by Frank Lopes due to his experience with homelessness; here, I’ll refer to him affectionately as Frank.) This album is blisteringly emotional and sonically innovative; every song is independently an accomplishment, a banger with new musical ideas and something personal to say. “Typical Story” hits hard right out of the gate, with abrasive guitars, wild screaming, and a really interesting subdued bridge. Frank’s vocals are constantly spectacular, conveying passionate, intoxicating emotion with distinctive, original delivery. The production is completely all over the place, creating walls of sound you can get lost in while Frank raves, breathing fire; take “Mover Awayer”, which has an ebullient chorus buoyed by loud, in-your-face backing vocals, but which then gives way to sensitive, desperate horns for the bridge. The album builds existential dread out of mundane, human life; even the grandest odyssey, “You & the Cockroach”, explains the whole of human history in terms of basic human impulses and needs. (By the way, Frank’s delivery on “You & the Cockroach” is unparalleled, and you’ve absolutely got to hear it.) Still, it’s constantly groovy and fun to listen to, full of bubbly riffs and hot hooks; the harmony is spectacular, from the key changes on “Ode to Justin Bieber” (between A# Locrian and B Minor Pentatonic then to A Major) to the vocals on “Sorry, My Dear”. (I’m openly avoiding trying to figure out the excellent, complex jazz harmony on “Moonlight”.) That’s not to say that this album will raise your mood; it might make you a better person, but it is utterly devastating, that good kind of pain you can get from truly beautiful art.

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