Release date: Nov. 8, 2011
Record label: Jocoserious Records
Official website: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/
The buzz: Geek-friendly singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton continues his quest for world domination with his latest LP, "Artificial Heart." Produced by They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh, the album features appearances by Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara and Suzanne Vega.
The verdict: While longtime fans may be surprised by the relative lack of some of Coulton's favorite subjects—monkeys, robots, monsters—with "Artificial Heart" he places the spotlight on the solid emotional core that has always elevated his work several steps above novelty. Lyrically, this seems to be Coulton's most personal and revealing effort yet, as evidenced by the heart-warming rocker "Glasses" and the suburban married life snapshot "Alone at Home." Coulton's pop-rock musical sensibilities remain impeccable, aided by Flansburgh's rich production and a backing band that breathes life into Coulton's sound. There's enough quirk on "Artificial Heart" to satisfy Coulton's base—see the tricky wordplay of "Sticking It to Myself" and the funny/sad character study "Good Morning Tuscon"—but the raw emotion on display makes this set a career highlight.
Did you know? The rendition of "Still Alive" sung by Quin on "Artificial Heart" marks that song's third official recording: It previously appeared in the critically-acclaimed video game "Portal" (2007) and on Coulton's 2009 live album "Best. Concert. Ever."