Indie legend Calvin Johnson’s newest album A Wonderful Beast is a mix of blues, synth-based dance tracks, and indie pop. Johnson, best known as the off-beat leader of Beat Happening and founder K Records, has mixed his years of experience and melded them with the touch of producer Patrick Carney, best known as one half of The Black Keys.
Bluesy opener “Kiss Me Sweetly” has Carney’s fingerprints all over it, not to mention backing vocals from his wife, pop singer-songwriter Michelle Branch. Johnson’s prior project, the dancey Dub Narcotic Sound System, can also be heard on tracks like “When the Weekend Comes Around” and “Wherefore Art Thou,” which proves as cheesy as any song about Romeo and Juliet can be.
Johnson employs different vocal styles throughout the album, including a couple of spoken word tracks, but the voice is always distinctly his. While it can’t quite decide if it’s indie, rock or a dance album A Wonderful Beast is a creative album that makes for a good listen.