That’s an easy description of Daniel Johns’ second solo album, his first in seven years. The harder part is deciphering the storyline.
A rock star seeking redemption? “I’m excited to make amends,” he sings. A cry for help? One song is called Someone Call an Ambulance. A search for love and acceptance? “This song is for everyone,” Johns offers in the opening track. FutureNever might be all, or none, of those things. “Please don’t try and understand,” Johns declares in Emergency Calls Only, which is probably good advice. Just enjoy the trip.
Those craving a Silverchair reunion, or a return to their ’90s sound, will be disappointed, though Johns reinvents the band’s 1997 hit Freak as a disturbing nursery rhyme, and adds a third part to Young Modern’s Those Thieving Birds, emphasising the lines: “No more big lies, no more goodbyes.”
Everything about this genre-busting record feels sprawling, though the longest song is just 4.38. Johns packs more ideas into just one side of a D90 cassette than most artists have in their entire career. And though it’s filled with collaborations – half of the songs have a “feat.” credit – it sounds very much like a solo record, the work of an unpredictable Prince-like genius. Johns has chosen not to release any singles – a smart move, because there’s no doubt FutureNever is an album.
An immensely rewarding, immersive experience.
FutureNever by Daniel Johns is out April 22 via BMG.