Album: John Grant with Midlake, Queen Of Denmark (Bella Union)

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The Independent Culture

After four albums fronting American indie band The Czars with scant commercial success, John Grant effectively abandoned music until Czars fans Midlake insisted he record at their Denton, Texas studio.

The results, a near-perfect marriage of his warm baritone with their lush woodwind and keyboard textures, bring to tender life Grant's tales of growing up gay in the midwest. There's a delicate, melancholic tinge to torch-songs such as "Where Dreams Go To Die", while a childhood of hurt is cauterised in "Silver Platter Club" by a Beatle-ish arrangement of prancing piano and poignant French horn.

On the album's best track "I Wanna Go To Marz", cyclical piano, gentle flute and acoustic guitar sugar-coat Grant's list of sweetshop memories, evoking the warm embrace of teenage yearning, while elsewhere funky clavinet drives the more assertive "Chicken Bones", and a combination of electric piano, celesta, guitar and bowed bass provide a comforting salve for the disappointments of "Leopard And Lamb". Prejudice is most openly tackled in "JC Hates Faggots", but rather than the usual gay tragic-heroine figures such as Judy Garland, it's Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder that constitute his gay icons.

Download this I Wanna Go To Marz; TC And Honeybear; Leopard And Lamb