What We Want is the second major release by Goodman, and the first full-length record. Michael Goodman wrote all the music and lyrics for the record, and then surrounded himself with the Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen All-Stars to play along with him: Zac Coe of The All-About on drums, Oliver Ignatius on bass and harmonium (as well as behind the board producing), and Josh Aubin of Sons Of An Illustrious Father in a minor role. With a line-up like that, it’d be hard to not make a good record.
Goodman avoids the pitfalls of making a pop record by shrouding his love songs in self-doubt and angst without letting those qualities dominate. What We Want makes me think of what Joy Division would sound like if they’d made a early-Beatles cover album. Michael sings with an expressive voice that hints at pain and heartbreak while maintaining a fairly sunny disposition. All the songs have a good amount of playfulness to them-even at it’s most somber moments this is more of a party record than most that are trying to be.
There are two songs for me that stand out above the rest and really give you a good idea of the album as a whole. The first one is “Without You,” the albums second track. After coming in hard and fast on the opener, they slow things down a bit with a beautifully sung quasi-ballad about trying to move on after a break up. It mixes great harmonies and strong lyrics.
“Making more coffee, pour another cup. Making arrangements, making it all up. Without you. Without you. I will carry on, though I don’t know what I’m carrying (carrying). I won’t tarry long.”
The second song comes toward the end of the album. It’s the title track, and it really brings in all the elements of the album. “What We Want” is a brisk run through a lot of the issues we have at the beginning of a relationship. The driving percussion provided by Coe really sets the tone for this one. The way the music is put together really makes me think of Tommy James and the Shondells and all the other great pop groups of the 60’s. Of course, a lot of those early records weren’t allowed to be as frank and honest about how they feel.
“She’s got priorities and I’ve got pride. I’ve got anxieties I keep tonight. But every now and then I let them fly, and I could feel like breaking. The more we’re working makes me paranoid I have this vision that I quite enjoy, of two young lovers rushing to the void and they are not forsaken.”
What We Want came out way back in November, and I regret taking so long to get around to it. Consider it another in a long line of hits coming out of Brooklyn’s unbelievably deep talent pool. I think what sets this album apart is Goodman’s approach as a songwriter, never letting it get too dark. Songs like that can sometimes write themselves, so putting a sunny spin on it is is more impressive to me. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.