Ken Stringfellow – Danzig In The Moonlight

The Posies guy. Now there’s no question that The Posies have always been a fine little band. In fact, back in the day they could even be considered mildly great. It’s just that it was always the kind of greatness you could easily live without. As far as that power pop thing goes, Fountains Of Wayne’s could always come up with melodies that were a lot more effortless and articulate. Still, it’s interesting to know what Ken Stringfellow, one of The Posies’ primary songwriters, has to say in 2012. Quite a lot, it turns out, both musically and lyrically. Danzig In The Moonlight is the sort of brilliantly erratic album that manages to reflect and fully justify its title.

The album is surely a patchy affair, full of songs that are inventive, desperately spontaneous and all over the place. I say that in a most affectionate way. There are actually very few 2012 albums that could rival Danzig In The Moonlight in terms of imagination and sheer creative exuberance. At the risk of taking it out of proportion, I’d say that this may well be Ken’s White Album. Certainly not as impressive and stylistically varied, but you get the drift.

‘Jesus Was An Only Child’ is a perfect opener. It starts like a Jason Pierce ballad (that I could well imagine as part of Spiritualized’s latest), tortured, fragile and gorgeous, until the second, ‘New Nuremburg’ part kicks in with its intense garagey groove and frenetic singing. Brilliant. Then there’s a quiet, pretty country-ish ballad titled ’110 and 220v’. Then the emotional, angst-ridden ‘Shittalkers’ with a bunch of absolutely irresistible vocal hooks. Then a short accordion-driven confection, ‘You’re The Gold’, one of the year’s best pop songs (think Robyn Hitchcock’s ‘Strawberry Mind’ without the weird lyrics). Then the nostalgic, retro-styled soul number ‘Pray’. I actually have very few complaints up to track 9, at which point Ken decided to record a couple of bland, totally washed-out ballads (one of them is suitably titled ‘Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless’). Still, the final run of songs is quite strong, and manages to display even more impressive diversity.

Granted, Danzig In The Moonlight is the sort of album that would have benefited greatly from editing. Having said that, the intense, uneven, colourful nature of the whole thing may well be where a great deal of the record’s charm lies. For me, the main problem remains the same: Ken Stringfellow’s conspicuous lack of identity. However, it’s not like this could ever stand in the way of a good song.

Released on 1st October 2012 by Lojinx Records