02 Jardin Du Luxembourg
When the child of a famous musician puts out his or her first album, there is a high risk of either being hailed prematurely as a genius, or of being unfairly crapped on by reviewers. When the celebrity offspring in question is Sean Lennon, the extra ingredient of family tragedy makes things even more uncomfortable. The band’s name, usually shortened to its acronym, The GOASTT, addresses what is at the back of everyone’s minds as they listen. Their music conjures up the spirit of a legendary father, but at the same time, it appears to be dodging around and intellectually tickling him.
Lennon and his bandmate/girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl have a gift for putting just the right twist in a melody to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The general tone of Acoustic Sessions is wistful and whimsical, with a little sarcastic bite. The themes often centre around post-apocalyptic visions, the entropy of the universe and the destruction of humanity—but it’s not like they’re just trying to make you feel depressed.
The ironic title of the album plays on the expectation that bands only go acoustic when they have become hugely famous, but it is not entirely misleading. The instrumentation here is surprisingly sparse, but the stripping down serves to highlight the duo’s lovely voices, singing surreal pun-filled lyrics perfectly in sync and in close harmony. “The World Was Made for Men” is particularly striking, with only a chorus of human voices for backing.
Some might complain that the whole project is too cute and too self-aware, no more than a piece of musical wankery. I can’t really judge one way or the other, but I can tell you that I loved the first track “Lavender Road” before I knew who was singing it, and continue to love it now.