Monday, September 18, 2023

Duncan Reid and the Big Heads - And It's Goodbye From Him

Now this is how you go out on top! And It's Goodbye From Him is the fourth and final studio album from Duncan Reid and the Big Heads, capping a remarkable second act in Reid's musical career which began with his 2012 solo album Little Big Head. Reid, bassist/vocalist in the legendary punk group The Boys, has assembled one of the most impressive catalogs in modern day power pop/punk rock along side the formidable Big Heads (Nick Hughes, Sophie Powers, and Karen Jones). Having made the decision to step away from music, Reid has left us with a truly extraordinary swan song. 

And It's Goodbye From Him is not just the best-produced album Reid has done with the Big Heads. It's also the most musically varied and lyrically personal. In the years in which this album was written, Reid survived a pandemic, became a grandfather, and discovered he was autistic. All these things inform these songs, which are filled with Reid's special blend of heart, humor, wit, and insight. In many ways, this is an album about self-discovery and self-reflection —  with a couple songs delving into political commentary which surprisingly lighten the mood. My reaction to hearing this album is that we're experiencing a master at work. Reid is one of the last living legends of first generation power pop punk, and he can still turn out punchy three-chord pop songs like a champ. Even with some pleasant surprises (e.g. the German cabaret stylings of "Would I Lie To You" and the elegant baroque pop of "It's Going So Well"), this still sounds familiarly like a Duncan Reid and the Big Heads album. All those who love power pop, punk rock, or any combination of the two will surely find these songs hitting their sweet spot. This is a remarkable and practically flawless set of songs, and producer Dave Draper squeezes the absolute most out of every last hook, melody, and harmony. No doubt energized by one of the finest backing bands in his land or any other, Reid sounds in absolute peak form on this farewell platter. Knockout opening cut "Lost Again" finds Reid laying himself bare for the whole world to hear, and it will make you love him if you didn't already. "Funaggedon Time," an ode to the heyday of glam rock, fully lives up to its title. "Just Try To Be Kind" is a reminder of what we all should aspire to these days. "Can I Go Out Now Please" will take you right back to your lockdown headspace. By the time I stop laughing at "Bill Gates (Finland is a Myth)," I'll be on my deathbed. "Singing with the Beach Boys," a poignant tale about a divorced weekend dad making a special connection with his son, is a fitting close to a tremendous album and a legendary career. 

And It's Goodbye From Him, for me, is in the running for album of the year. At a time when we're pleased if most first generation punk rockers merely don't embarrass themselves, Duncan Reid is signing off with what is genuinely one of the finest records he has ever been a part of. Perhaps you'll come for the sing-along choruses and tuneful melodies, but you'll stay for the charm, joy, and humanity.

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