This turned up in the ICM mailbox last week and after a week of listening to it, it seemed that I was keeping a little secret to myself, well, I have kept it to myself for long enough and now is the time to share it, it isn't just "What We Want," it was what I want and what you want, just what you needed!
Michael Goodman, who records and releases albums only under his surname, makes pop music. He recalls the chord progressions of the radio hits of the ’50s and ’60s and long-forgotten power-pop bands of the late ’70s with ease, resting his achingly beautiful melodies over beds of I IV V’s and, even better, I vi IV V’s.
Michael Goodman is not, however, just a kid with a guitar, regurgitating the first chords he ever learned behind a wall of distortion. Also apparent in Goodman’s music is the meticulousness, the hours of deliberation, that characterize some of the greatest pop recordings of all times. The songs on “What We Want” are born of the same painstaking attention to detail that once resulted in “Be My Baby” and “Good Vibrations.” Every note is perfectly placed, every sound achieved with care. Goodman’s every syllable is sung with conviction, his soaring harmonies exactly matching the fastidiously wrought diction of his lead vocals. The end result is a certain soulfulness; the overwhelming beauty of a singular vision, correctly realized.
In the context of the ever-growing standards of the Mama Coco’s canon, Goodman has just raised the bar one notch higher.
Album opener “Night Person” kicks us off in a fitful burst of hooks, but hints at the meditative melancholy that permeates the record: “I’ve been pacing ’round the room / Trying to best my restless brain,” Goodman sings. As much as this album positively overflows with soaring melodies and hooks that permanently settle between your heartstrings after just one listen, it is also soundtrack for those long, deeply restless nights. The Wrecking Crew-esque groove of “Without You” drives a positively gorgeous tune home before giving way to the bounding “Waiting,” the excellent lead single (though, frankly, every tune on this album is a serious contender for the ‘lead single’ title). Mid-album highlight “Fever” chugs along like Ziggy-era Bowie and erupts into a cacophonous wall of synths and guitar leads in harmony. “Waking Hours” is some of Goodman’s finest songwriting to date, a strikingly subtle ballad; the instrumentation is perfectly understated, and the harmonies, doused in reverb, are almost painfully lovely. The late-album one-two punch of “Awakened” and the rowdy title track–the latter of which captures early-relationship jitters to a tee–are additional highlights. “Won’t,” which serves as the jangling but incredibly powerful album closer, ends an already-intimate record on an even more intimate note.
Like those of some of the best young songwriters (I am reminded, for instance, of Bright Eyes’ “Fevers & Mirrors”), Goodman’s lyrics are peppered with recurring imagery: flowers and fever, sleeping (but mainly lack thereof) and waking, early mornings and late nights plagued by uncertainty. He captures the ends of relationships and the beginnings of others through the eyes of the sleepless nights that bookend them.
This is pop music for nervous young people, tossing and turning because we don’t know just what we want.
Stream and buy the album here: Bandcamp
Contact, follow, befriend, like and love Goodman here: Facebook