Macaroni

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Imagine an alternative universe wherein Bobby Conn is the most popular and famous pop star on the planet: "Never Get Ahead" was a worldwide number one hit for 20 consecutive weeks; both takes of "The Language of Love" held numbers 1 AND 2 in the US Charts and "King for a Day" was used in a series of hugely popular ads for Burger King despite the violent protestations from his more militant vegan fan base. Of course, even in an alternative universe this would never and could never happen. However, Bobby Conn’s latest play for superstardom Macaroni leaves the listener yearning for an age where this could be possible. The album’s eponymous first track kicks off with the sound of a primitive drum machine (something that is a musical theme throughout) with Conn proclaiming "I want something easy, I want something cheesy" in his paean to the comforting food of Macaroni Cheese. This is followed by "Govt." where a drum sound the size of Rik Waller powers a song which is seemingly a barbed dialogue between the Government and the "people" wherein the Government’s limp declaration of "we’re working hard for you people" is countered by obvious pessimism - "we know all of your conspiracies". Indeed, the theme of protest and "us" versus "them" is prevalent throughout the album. "Greed" articulates a message of, well greed and is powered by a 70s Glitter Band stomp wherein Conn proclaims "you can’t pay for the ride" and the Harry Nilsson-esque piano pop of "More Than You Need" simply states "don’t take more than you need". Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the menacing "Can’t Stop the War" whose chants of "people die" are matched by a musical accompaniment of growing paranoia, climaxing in a metal guitar/nursery rhyme denouement which shouldn’t work but undoubtedly does. Again, the idea of opposites/protest is clear in perhaps the album’s centerpiece "Underground Vktm". Here a 40+ year old Conn states "And I’m sick of all the kids today/Typing on their phones/They’re always writing their opinions/And I’m sick of their opinions" He later states that "2010, 2011, 2012" have "no secrets anymore" wherein "Everyone knows/Everyone shares/Everyone sees". Conn concludes that it’s "no wonder why we don’t care anymore". Conn’s recent blog, itself entitled Underground Vktm, poses the question “lyrics or manifesto?” and it seems clear that on this evidence he is veering towards the latter. Conn’s musical restlessness continues throughout the rest of the album ranging from the falsetto-voice and Middle Eastern violin stylings (courtesy of Conn’s wife Monica Boubou) of Face Blind, the Latino jazz funk of "The Truth" and the minimalist electro funk of "After School". The album closes with "Walter’s Game" which after introducing itself with a drum machine beat that hasn’t been heard since Roxy Music’s "Dance Away" it at once veers from delicate Harpsichord powered pop to anthemic stadium rock within the space of 3 minutes. It’s doubtful Macaroni will make Conn huge nor will it lead to any promotional Macaroni Cheese ready meal tie-ins. But what it does do is provide further proof that Bobby Conn continues to be one of the most musically schizophrenic and entertaining artists out there.