Review Summary: Tragedy and comedy mediated by sincerity
A tragi-comedic album with a sincere centre, Death & Daytime T.V. is the sophomore album released by singer-songwriter Sir Jonny Boon that sees the artist expanding his sound and crafting a much more mature, textually rich – albeit somewhat inconsistent – project.
The opening ballad Everything is Temporary sets the stage for what’s to come, balancing melancholy and sleight humour in equal measure. “I’ve been meaning to exercise my demons, so I sent them all out for a jog” sings Boon as he continues to reflect on a particularly painful event that has coloured his outlook on life, backed by a gently picked acoustic guitar and glockenspiel.
However, we’re immediately presented with a left-hook by the bouncier, folk-pop track Dead Celebrity, which is perhaps the most contentious track on the album as far as general audience is concerned. A critique of the societal norm of mass mourning for deceased celebrities, Sir Jonny Boon takes aim at a culture that perhaps puts too much emphasis on status, and not enough on wider issues (such as famine and suicide) that still need tackling, after all: “It’s the corpus not the corpse that they’ll remember”.
A controversial topic to be sure, but the following track Slow Dance treads much more comfortable ground. A venomous break-up track that contains one of the more desperate and cynical vocal performances on the record, backed by a grunge style guitar line that pushes it into the realm of ‘anthem’.
Such a sentiment could be echoed for the autobiographical The Shame, which grapples with the subject of mental illness, in particular the eponymous shame Sir Jonny Boon feels following his own personal struggle. A timely track given the stigma that still shrouds discussion about mental health, it’s refreshing to hear an artist sing so sincerely about their own experience. And this is backed by a persistent piano sting and plucked violin during the pre-chorus that elevates the track sonically above the rest of the album, making it a truly remarkable highlight.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of missteps throughout the track list which hold back what is otherwise a great effort, the most egregious of which being the clunky Fun Vampire. Brimming to the tip – if not overflowing – with self-deprecating twee, carrying a chorus that dares you to try and forget it out of spite, and repeating the word ‘fun’ ad nauseam, it’s most certainly the weakest track on the record. Then there’s the cloying ode to romance Knitted Sweater, which is by no mean a terrible song, but pales in comparison to its peers.
Despite these particular lowlights, the album ends strongly with Like Hell, a haunting dirge that not only provides an envelope narrative to the record, but an emotionally poignant and devastating finale as well - its piano addendum echoes long in the memory after the final chord has been played.
Regardless of its few flaws, Death and Daytime T.V. is an album that will resonate with listeners who can find an empathetic though line, and will certainly entertain those who cannot.