The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

King for A Day, Indeed

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 16, 2007 7:30PM

We have reviewed every Bobby Conn release, and with the exception of his debut and that one EP, we have hailed each as the work of modern genius. His early work had a tendency to test the listener, teasing with snippets of joyous funk or mammoth stadium choruses delivered via basement recording studio. Each subsequent album has built up a more dependable mix of accessible tunes within which Conn delivers scathing commentary on the society, and political worldviews of those in power, that dominates our daily lives and provide an ever deepening concern for our collective future.

2007_02_bobbyconn.jpgConn is a provocateur, and this all sounds like pretty heady stuff, but he seems to have learned over the years (and this is no doubt in large part to the amazing musicians he has surrounded himself with) that a spoonful of sugar does indeed help the medicine go down. On his latest album, King For A Day, Conn mixes glam rock, disco-funk, show tunes, Latin rhythms, and whatever he and his band can get their hands on to create a song cycle that is his most aurally rewarding yet.

As far as Conn’s dialogue with the listener, this is also the most ambitious disc he has ever released. On one hand Conn really seems to be reaching for the sky, creating videos for every track and envisioning the whole project as some sort of over the top musical. On the other, it comes across as his most personal work since the song subjects stem from his own relations with the world around him. He maintains King For A Days’ lyrics sprout from true stories, and while we personally profess doubt about this claim since Conn has a long history of misdirection when offering seemingly “easy” answers, we agree that King For A Day is ultimately a “human” album. In the past Conn’s archness has provided difficult for some to see past, but here he seems to be reaching out. Even something as potentially confrontational as the pseudo-philosophical self-help-ism of Conn’s dual-channeled conversation with himself on “Punch The Sky!” has an appealing connectivity. The conversation eventually descends into cliché, but one feels Conn is honestly trying to get a feeling across, and this is his most direct method.

Ultimately, King For A Day confirms what we’ve suspected all along about Bobby Conn; he’s trying to get through to you. And us. And him and her. Beyond the theatricality, there is an honesty that ultimately drives Conn’s art, and that’s why we feel comfortable in proclaiming King For A Day his best, and most cohesive, work yet.

Bobby Conn celebrates the release of King For A Day at The Empty Bottle tomorrow, Saturday February 17. Bird Names opens.