BY JOHN B. MOORE
It’s been six long, boring years since Ed Hamell, known by many more as Hamell on Trial, wandered into the recording studio with his ‘37Gibson acoustic to strum along to his Johnny-Rotten-fuck-the-world, but-keep-‘em-laughing-as-you-do-it ditties.
His latest, The Happiest Man in the World, includes some of the best songs he has ever committed to tape; tracks like the name-checking album opener “Artist in America,” or the philosophically brilliant title track. But there are also a handful of songs here that seem to be actively trying to get you to stop rooting for him.
The Kimya Dawson duet “Together,” complete with trumpets, a tuba and unnecessarily goofy lyrics is just disappointing. Hamell has never shied away from writing witty, at times obnoxiously confrontational lyrics. That’s part of what makes him such a fantastic songwriter. But being weird, just for the sake of being weird on a song like “Together” seems like just space filler on this otherwise great record.
Like his best work, there is plenty here to alienate the humorless and sensitive: “Mom’s Hot,” is a love song for all the amputee fetishists out there, and “Gods At Odds,” is quite possibly his best collection of lyrics (“Your god seems like an angry man, he’s ruling this world with an iron hand/Your god needs a lot of praise… my god seems like a real cool girl, she’s got a sense of humor… my god’s got a lot of class/your god’s a pain in the ass”). My god, Hamell, we’ve missed you.
DOWNLOAD: “Artist in America,” “Happiest Man in the World” and “Gods At Odds”