Album Review

John Grant - The Art Of The Lie

His signature duality of musical buoyancy and lyrical wretchedness is in full flow.

John Grant - The Art Of The Lie


The genius of John Grant has always lain in the way the 55-year-old splices together humour and pain; musical buoyancy and lyrical wretchedness (or, sometimes, vice versa). Born into a heavily religious family where he was told that homosexuality was a fast track to hell, much of his output since has danced through the resulting agony, making warped magic out of the wreckage – and on sixth solo album ‘The Art Of The Lie’, this duality is in full flow. More than ever, it’s a record musically cleaved in two. You have the twitchy ‘hits’ – the ‘80s, vocoder-doused funk strut of opener ‘All That School For Nothing’, or the sassy wobbles of lead single ‘It’s A Bitch’ – but they’re directly juxtaposed with moments of total devastation. On the heartbreaking pseudo-duet (singing pitch-shifted with himself) of ‘Father’, Grant laments that he “couldn’t be the man that you always hoped I would become”; ‘Daddy’, meanwhile, is written from a child’s eye view, a sad, elegiac piece in which he sings that “what I am is a sin”. It is often, understandably, an extremely heavy listen, but just as he’s pulled you in, Grant will spit you out again with a piss-taking skit (‘Twistin Scriptures’) or a clever one liner. ‘Meek AF’’s play on the biblical notion that the meek will inherit the earth (“You think you’re one of the sheep / But you also think that you’re the GOAT”) is classic him. ‘The Art Of The Lie’ won’t act as an accessible gateway into John Grant’s catalogue, but for those already sold, it’s a deeper excavation into the mind of the man.

Tags: John Grant, Reviews, Album Reviews

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