Album Review: Aaron Freeman - Marvelous Clouds

6 July 2012 | 2:50 pm | Brent Balinski

If you ever wished Ween would tone it down and grow up a little (though why would you?), then this’d be damn near perfect.

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Once upon a time there was this chappie named Rod McKuen. RM was a poet and composer who had all the success in the world: a Pulitzer and Grammys for his compositions – which have been covered by Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings and others – and a million-plus copies of his poetry books sold in 1969 alone. Critics hated his guts and his shmaltziness though, and Newsweek called him “The King of Kitsch”. McKuen suffered horrible depression in the 1980s and has been reclusive ever since.

Thanks to another member of kitsch royalty (of sorts), we can now enjoy the work of McKuen again, as Aaron Freeman (of those recently-broken-up musical polymaths Ween) has released his debut solo record in the form of an album's worth of McKuen covers. There are mild shocks here: the vocally chameleonic Freeman sings entirely in his own voice and Clouds seems heartfelt and devoid of pisstakery. But overall, if you were told this was Ween's new record, you'd probably just think, “Oh, they're slightly older and have just gotten tired of trying to be as weird as possible.” Opener, As I Love My Own, has organ flourishes that remind of Piss Up A Rope. The incongruous explosion at the end of Jean echoes the ending in Buenos Tardis Amigo. And, overall, the vibe is a lot like a less freaked-out The Mollusk. And the goofiness slathered over what's probably sensitivity is something that we're used to from Mr Freeman.

This is an excellent album, and if you ever wished Ween would tone it down and grow up a little (though why would you?), then this'd be damn near perfect.