Despite his relatively low profile with the public
at large, Jonathan Coulton’s successfully developed his own cottage industry through
composing for the gaming industry and interacting with fans over the internet.
Geeky and eccentric – think of him as a cross between Ben Folds and Todd
Rundgren in early ‘70s singer/songwriter mode – Coulton’s quirky new album
typically finds him affecting a wide array of roles, from a despondent
dull-witted loser to a man rejoicing in receiving a new heart, a would-be Rick
Springfield imitator to, well, an all-too-eager arsonist. Even so, his melodies
resonate with an immediate pop punch, songs powered by catchy choruses,
ricocheting refrains and hooks that ensure an immediate impression.
True to his reputation as an over-achiever, Artificial Heart offers 18 songs, each
more effusive than the other. Considering the fact that during 2005-06 Coulton
was releasing a new song a week (which he appropriately dubbed the Thing a Week series), his proficiency
comes as no surprise. So too, with They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh at the
helm, Coulton’s unlikely charms and goofy persona are given full vetting. Like
the Giants, Coulton manages to balance the odd with the accessible, giving
songs like “Je Suis Rick Springfield,” “Good Morning Tucson” and “Still Alive” the feel of
immediate, if off-kilter, classics. Ultimately, it’s those hum-worthy ditties
that suggest Artificial Heart is
definitely the real deal.
“Je Suis Rick Springfield,” “Good Morning Tucson,” “Still Alive” LEE