You’ve probably heard the name before you’ve heard any music, but then that’s usually what happens when Adele tweets about your music. Canada’s Tobias Jesso Jr – you know, the one that looks a bit like Jesse Eisenberg by way of Michael Cera – was the subject of such peer admiration with the breakthrough track How Could You Babe? The shtick is simple: neo-Bacharach via Nick Drake, old-school piano songs, and a hell of a lot of heart.
Goon takes that formula and runs with it. The melodies are worn, familiar, but in these hands they gain renewed freshness – opener Can’t Stop Thinking About You comes across as so forehead-smackingly simple that you wonder how it hasn’t been done before. It’s no surprise that these are songs to win over the likes of Adele – tracks like Bad Words and The Wait (‘would you be the one to tell me now/ ‘Cos I won’t leave it up to fate”) are armed with the sort of simple instrumentation and heart-on-sleeve songwriting that made 21 popular, though perhaps with half the emotion.
That’s one of the drawbacks with Goon, though – if it took Adele as second album to properly make a mark, there’s a sense that whatever Tobias Jesso Jr does next will add an extra level of gravitas to his work. Sure, there are also times when Jesso strays ever so slightly into parody (some of these songs could slot alarmingly well into the Anchorman soundtrack), but overall it’s a short-lived feeling. What remains at the end of Goon is the knowledge that this is the start of a rather promising career for a most endearing new artist.