John Southworth

Mars, Pennsylvania

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Mars Pennsylvania is the perfect example of why John Southworth is a love or hate proposition: The lyrics are unfailingly literate and interesting, and the musical arrangements eccentric and interesting, but Southworth has a pinched-off nasal vocal delivery somewhat reminiscent of Frank Sidebottom; in other words, it's a bit hard to take seriously on a cursory listen. Give it some time, though, and Southworth hooks you utterly. "Man If We Could Surf Forever More" veers wildly between jangle pop and death metal, while other numbers bring to mind Kurt Weill-style cabaret pop. Various UFO/alien references serve to carve out his status as an outsider, but Southworth actually out-Morrisseys Morrissey with the tragic teen anthem "This Halloween I Go As Me." It's not to everyone's taste, that's for sure, but if you dig this kind of thing even a little, you'll love this album.

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