For Kleenex Girl Wonder, it’s been nearly 20 years of agony and joy, 20 years of stupid GBV comparisons when it’s obvious to anyone paying attention that KGW mastermind Graham Smith is the Ray Davies of his generation—except Smith watches the world go by on his screen instead of from a window. And now comes The Comedy Album. Clocking in at nearly 76 minutes, on double vinyl from Reesonable Records, it’s KGW’s defining statement, their magnum opus (magnum hopeless?). It goes emotionally deeper than KGW’s ever gone before—more desperate, more despairing—and yet it echoes all the great moments that have come before.
Not The Comedy Album as in a collection of jokes. The Tragedy Plus Time Album would be more accurate. Because even as Smith likes his melodies catchy and saturated with hooks, he likes his humor dark and buried in bleakness. You have to cry to keep from laughing
And with 8,133 words of lyrics, it’s as much a novella as an album. And what words. It blows away even peak-era Elvis Costello with its endless puns and relentless rants (‘You’re just a liege, allegedly allegiant to a legislative fallacy. Ban the beguine, beleaguered bourgeoisie, pick your parapets and parakeets. Aren’t you embarrassed yet?’). It’s like Smith thinks if he keeps throwing words at his problems he’ll eventually find an answer—to love, to death, to the world and all of its problems. Which is to say The Comedy Album is about what it feels like to be too alive and too in touch with everything around you—unable to stop noticing the bullshit and the beauty, the shallowness and the depth.