How did I let this happen?
How did I miss the fact that Donald Fagen had a new song out? How did we let this happen? How was I not notified? Why weren't we paying attention? Do you people know me at all?
No matter, all that matters is that Donald Fagen has a new song out. And it's awesome.
Todd Rundgren's White Knight is an immensely joyful collaborative effort, bringing together the old and the new at a sort of hipster picnic, where everyone brings something to the table to share and enjoy. From hip-hop to electronica to goth and back to ballads, it's all being passed around the table. Working with other musicians is what Rundgren does best, and he brings all his friends together for this one.
Obviously, "Tin Foil Hat" is the highlight of the album, snarky and snaking and clever in a way that only Papa Don can be. It's obviously about Trump. You're supposed to know it's about Trump. But unlike, say, Juliana Hatfield's heavy-handed "Kellyanne" from my review of her new album Pussycat a few weeks back, it has a bouncy listenability that will extend beyond the Tweeter-in-Chief's (hopefully reduced, soon, please, God) term.
For good or for ill, it's impossible to fall into a groove listening to this album. Each song is so different. One minute, your heart is in your hands ("Chance for Us," reuniting him with Daryl Hall, and "That Could Have Been Me" with Robyn) the next minute you're dancing your face off ("Naked and Afraid" feat. Bettye LaVette, killing it at 71) and then, you're in a good, chill groove ("Let's Do This," "Sleep"). White Night is an inviting album, one you want to spend time with, diving deeper and deeper into. It's an old friend from the first listen.
That being said, the screechy EDM "Look at Me" is flat-out embarrassing, like a dad trying to be cool by turning his hat around backwards. Todd, stop, Michael Holman is just trying to egg you on.
It's rare that an artist creates an album for such a wide variety of listeners, but Rundgren has done it marvelously. It is, at times, too serious and occasionally prone to ugly moments (the dialogue on "Tin Foil Hat," the guttural electronic spit that opens "Buy My T." But overall, it's a solid record. Not quite a must-have, but you won't be disappointed.
As for the Donald Fagen thing, don't let this happen again, people. I'm counting on you.
Notable Tracks: “Chance For Us” | “Let’s Do This” | “Naked and Afraid” | “Tin Foil Hat”