Stephen Lynch is a gifted musician. On top of having a great singing voice and being an excellent guitarist, Lynch has also consistently shown that he can adapt to a variety of music genres and styles.
In the past, Lynch has used such musical talent to create songs about molestation, genocide, and rectally smuggling drugs, because if you’re a gifted musician and not doing that, let’s be honest, you’re performing a disservice to your fellow man (I’m looking at you, every musician who has ever taken anything seriously). His new album, Lion, doesn’t tackle the overtly shocking topics his past efforts have, yet it still manages to be one of his funniest releases. I know it seems unsettling that Lynch wouldn’t sing about Hitler and Jesus’ evil brother, but just about every track on Lion is just as funny as any of his past work.
Musically, Lion’s tone is more on the country/folk side of Lynch’s style. There are even harmonicas or, as Lynch calls them, mouth-harps! Lynch takes on this genre very well, showing off his abilities as a musician, but what really matters is how well the music accompanies the absurd lyrics he spouts out. After all, that juxtaposition is what usually sells Lynch’s comedy (like when he sings beautifully about dating a Nazi). Lion’s lyrics work well with the music. The sincere-sounding riffs from the music go perfectly with topics like acid trips, stupid tattoos, Juggalos, and trying to convince someone to let you inside a house (that one sounds the most mundane, but “Let Me Inside” is actually one of the funniest songs on Lion).
Lynch’s latest presents his new material in both studio and live recording form. The studio version, though well produced and very polished, is not nearly as funny as the live tracks. Not only are you treated with some banter between Lynch and the other musicians in the live recording but one song (“Whiskey Dick”) even gets a brief and ridiculous mini-musical play to go alongside it. This track in particular is really enhanced by the live rendition. Without the absurd references and dialogue performed in the live version, “Whiskey Dick” is an uninspired song, lacking the clever and more subtle humor most of the album has. Throw in Lynch’s hilariously self-serving mini-musical from the live version, however, and one of the worst tracks on the album ends up being one of the best. The live tracks are far more energetic and engaging than their studio counterparts, making the second half (or second CD if you are using physical media) of the album much more enjoyable than the first.
There are a couple of songs on Lion that just don’t land like the rest of the album. On top of the studio version of “Whiskey Dick,” “You’ll Do” takes the rather unoriginal concept of the desperation that can be found during a bar’s closing time and adds a few funny lines to it. It’s not a terrible song, but it really does not fit in with the rest of the album.
From a musical stance, Lion moves far past Lynch’s previous albums. He really nails a specific genre and style that works with the entire album. Lyrically, however, Lion falls short of being Lynch’s funniest album, but it’s still a great addition to an already hilarious discography filled with songs about anal sex and AIDS.
Final Rating: The number of Juggalos there are in the world (at least 40, right?) out of the number of Tony Awards Stephen Lynch has. Oh wait, I think I just divided by 0. That can’t be good. Just go buy Lion before the universe melts or whatever.
You can purchase Lion on iTunes here:
Or from What Are Records? here.