Mike Doughty

Golden Delicious (ATO)

It seems like Mike Doughty is doing everything he can to blend in with every milquetoast singer-songwriter who ever drew inspiration from Duncan Sheik. The ridiculous album title, bland packaging photos—including shots of the artiste at work with a cup of coffee and a notebook full of scribbles—and liner notes thanking Dave Matthews suggest mediocrity at best.

So it was a pleasant surprise to put this on and hear a raspy familiar voice and realize that Doughty is actually former spoken-word pseudo-rapper M. Doughty of Soul Coughing, an interesting but inessential '90s band that had a couple of minor hits including "Super Bon Bon" and "Circles."

Golden Delicious has a couple of great songs. In opening track "Fort Hood," Doughty offers an ambivalent view of the war and lists attractive alternatives to thinking about distant murder, such as blasting Young Jeezy and getting high with prom-dress girls. "Wednesday (Contra La Puerta)" beautifully balances melancholy and nostalgia while looking back on a love lost during his past heroin addiction. But too much of the disc is forgettable filler or nonsense, like the excruciating line "It was easy, Japanese-y" in "I Got the Drop on You."

Doughty still has a poetic way with words and has decided his lyrics no longer need the distraction of samples and a crack rhythm section. Unfortunately, he's replaced his former band's innovative musicianship with generic folk-rock accompaniment.

 
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