Music Review: Mike Doughty – Sad Man Happy Man

MikeDoughty_SadManHappyManFor those of you that don’t remember Mike Doughty from his previous incarnation as the front man of the illustrious trio known as Soul Coughing, let me tell you that pop hooks have never been a problem for Mike in his solo career or during his days in Soul Coughing.  After the break up of Soul Coughing Mike began touring the country doing solo acoustic sets and his first two solo albums Skittish and Rockity Roll were both the fruits of this era.  In many ways, these two solo albums were the best part of Doughty’s solo career as their raw and barebones nature really showcased the most beloved aspects of his writing.  The rhythmic strumming and muting style that Mike plays with is for some reason very unique and much of that novelty is lost in Mike’s later albums Haughty Melodic and Golden Delicious which embraced a more typical pop style production quality thus blurring the line between Mike and other contemporary singer-songwriter types like Dave Matthews.  While those most recent albums had great moments, I always found the most pleasure from Mike when those lines were bold and intact.  Which brings us to the most recent of Mike’s endeavors, Sad Man Happy Man.

I hate to use the all-too-often thrown around phrase “return to form”, but Sad Man Happy Man definitely takes a step back from the heavy handed production techniques utilized on his previous two albums and brings us back to the days of acoustic guitar centric funky pop bliss.  As far as production goes, this album hits that happy medium between raw and production overdose giving the album great sound quality without sacrificing intimacy in the name of lush poppy arrangements.  Nearly every song on this album revolves entirely around the vocals and acoustic guitar, which basically translates to ‘every song on this album is a rock solid acoustic pop effort’ in the world of Mike Doughty.  This album may be several steps away from perfection since some of the songs are more memorable than others, but, on the whole Mike has once again lived up to the lofty standards to which I hold him.

The Bottom Line:

If you have never given Mike Doughty a listen before then this would likely be a great album to get your feet wet with, as it is both extremely accessible and refined and yet still is able to deliver the classic Mike Doughty sound.

–Ben

Mike Doughty – Sad Man Happy Man: 8.9 out of 10.0

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~ by mediametric on October 17, 2009.

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