Music can be many things to many people and often what it means to the listener is very different to what it means for the creator. And if The Perfect Son is a bundle of disco vibes, 80’s electronica vibes and 21st-century dance floor poise to the casual ear, to its creator, David E. Johnston, it is also something else altogether. To him, it represents a safe space.
Like most creatives, it is through making art that he confronts his anxieties and darker moments, The Perfect Son, therefore, becomes a wonderful contradiction, a dayglo pop explosion that acts as personal therapy, a dance floor groove fest that really comes from the heart. Johnston has built a career in theatre through his ability to inhabit a wide range of personas and characters. Gift of Tongues is the sound of David just being, well, David.
And if it opens with euphoric beats and an energetic buzz courtesy of Man of The World, it is an album that takes the brashness and shimmer of the pop world and uses it to weave together sonic threads which are poignant and powerful, deft and delicate, bombastic and beautiful. It’s all there.
Busted is soulful and subdued, brooding and bruised, Circus is a glitchy and ticking, sultry slow dance weave and Man In The Brown Fedora is a hushed, spoken word narrative that builds a bridge between the real world and the one beyond, between heartache and the cold city streets, between half-dreams and otherworldly thoughts.
And it is songs like this that show just how clever an album this is. Sometimes it is happy to play with pure pop and more obvious dance moves but it also digs deep, tugs heartstrings and leaves you more than a bit surprised. Often all within the same song.