John Grant 

Queen of Denmark

John Grant's Queen of Denmark sounds like a darker, more self-deprecating Tenacious D album. In the title track, Grant captures his thematic contrasts with the line, "I wanted to change the world, but I could not even change my underwear." Outrageous comical observations serve as frosting for the deeper political undertones and depressing self-loathing. Dramatic piano hooks and Grant's tender voice may evoke a shadowy piano bar in the AM golden years of the 1970s, but his candid lyrics render the songs anything but easy listening.

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"Jesus Hates Faggots" is the perfect example of how Grant pairs glittery pop and a searing confrontation with the worst of humanity. "Marz" could be a track off of a Gordon Lightfoot album, with its flute-infused celestial sound and candy-coated lyrics like, "Golden champagne, juicy grapefruit, lucky Monday. High school football, hot fudge, buffalo, tulip, Sunday." "TC and Honeybear" comes off like a children's storybook until you listen closely and realize it's dissecting a heavy breakup.

At first, the flute solos and ABBA crescendos overwhelm the ballsy aspects of Queen of Denmark. But given a few plays, Grant's intelligent creation really shines.

John Grant plays the Badlander Friday, May 28, at 9 PM with Midlake and Jason Lytle. $10.

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