Danny Elfman – Big Mess

Release Date: June 11, 2021

Label: Anti-

From the promoter:

After releasing a series of singles over the past few months, Danny Elfman is announcing his first solo album in thirty-seven years today, titled Big Mess.

A slow burning track, True faces down hopelessness and despair head on. Elfman’s vocals are gritty and growling here, and his raw unfiltered delivery only adds to the emotionally charged atmosphere.

Clocking in at 18 tracks, the sprawling, ambitious double album finds the Grammy and Emmy Award-winning composer breaking bold new ground as both a writer and a performer, drawing on a dystopian palette of distorted electric guitars, industrial synthesizers and orchestra in an effort to exorcise the demons brought about by four years of creeping fascism and civil rot. He is joined on the album by drummer Josh Freese (Devo, Wheezer, The Vandals), bassist Stu Brooks (Dub Trio, Lady Gaga, Lauryn Hill), and guitarists Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses) and Nili Brosh (Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert).

Big Mess was almost entirely created spontaneously during quarantine in 2020. It began as an experiment Elfman had been considering which combined aggressive rock band and orchestral strings in a way that had not been heavily explored.

The songs on Big Mess combine both harmonically complex arrangements and simple high energy driving music with biting, acerbic wit as they reckon with the chaos and confusion of the modern world. And while the anger, frustration, and isolation of it all is palpable in his delivery, Big Mess is about more than simply blowing off steam. In making the space to truly sit with his emotions and write without limitations, Elfman achieved a kind of artistic liberation on the record that had been eluding him for decades, rediscovering his voice and reinventing himself all at once in the process.

Elfman isn’t shy about using that voice to share his mind, either. Big Mess is an often explicitly political record— Choose Your Side, Serious Ground and Sorry all anchor themselves in the political intensity of our times. Even a reworked Oingo Boingo song, Insects, transforms itself into a meditation on the greed and sickness of the American ruling class—but Big Mess is also a deeply personal work, with songs like the droning In Time, the haunting We Belong,  and feverish Everybody Loves You revealing more of Danny Elfman than we’ve heard at any stage of his remarkably eclectic career.

FCC: 1, 6, 9, 12, 16, & 18 (I can send clean versions of these tracks on request)

Listen to: 1, 2, 9, 12, 16, & 18

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