Reviewed by: Francelino Prazeres de Azevedo Filho
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn
A bouncy album full of happy-go-lucky tunes coupled with dirty sexual lyrics, Adam Green’s Gemstones might seem, at first listen, like an album that tries too hard. That might put off potential listeners, as it looks more like a novelty act than something made for the sake of its music. However, by halfway through the album, it’s clear that not only Adam has a great voice, but some good songwriting chops as well.
The 15 songs are all on the short side, and they use the same few instruments, with a focus on the electric piano. They also have lyrics going all over the place, and a few of them even sound sincere. Most, however, are humorous, or try to be so. Quite many of those have lines like “and if I went back to that whorehouse tonight / do you think I’d find a reason for a princess not to bite / my cock” or “Carolina, she’s from Texas / red bricks drop from her vagina”. Are they successful in their humour? Honestly, no. Ween could manage to convince us when they did stuff like that because they acted really stupid. Adam on the other hand always sounds kinda intellectual, so he just looks like an asshole.
The strong point of this album is the melodies. Even if the arrangements all sound similar, they are incredibly varied, and pretty good overall. Due to the short lengths of the tracks, the album almost dazzles you with the sequence of hooks. While there are some blues and pop-rock influences, the focus seem to be on pre-1960s genres, bringing to mind cabaret- and Tin-Pan-Alley-style ballads. In this respect, I soon realized the album is pretty similar, in mood and melody, to the classic 69 Love Songs; in fact, it seems almost like a continuation of that album’s aesthetic. That comparison made it easier to accept the lame humour.
If you don’t mind a singer that occasionally sounds like a jackass, and if you like a good variety of melodies that go straight to the point and never overstay their welcome, do listen to Gemstones.