If you must know why I am terminally suspicious of technological frills (I’m looking at you, Auto-Tune), it’s because of this: the simple, deeply effective pleasure of hearing a musician perform his or her songs without them. And yes, I know it’s a fine line, I know that many seemingly simple songs are built using technology “they” never used to have (whoever “they” were), but I’m talking more about visible versus invisible frills. I’m all for anything that helps us better hear the instruments and voices involved in the song-making, and I’m also, absolutely, all for anything that can be used, effectively, as music, however electronic or “artificially” generated—those are organic in their own way. Faddish processing that pointlessly roboticizes the sound is less good. Way less good.
So here’s Darren Hanlon, about as far from our Auto-Tuned radio music as he can be, and yet, lo and behold, look how fun, look how easy to listen to, look how delightful. I love the homely, chuggy guitar sound, I love Hanlon’s bemused, Billy Bragg-ish speak-singing, I love the unassuming ease of this great chord progression, I love the funny but not jokey lyrics, and I love love love that valorous, unexpected saxophone.
Hanlon is an Australian singer/songwriter who began a solo career in 1999 after previously playing in a number of Aussie bands, including the Lucksmiths and the Simpletons. “Buy Me Presents” is a song from his fourth album, I Will Love You At All, released last month on Yep Roc Records. Note his breakthrough album in Australia, in 2006, had the intriguing title Fingertips and Mountaintops.