Adam Green - Jacket Full of Danger

by Sean Carrillo

Originally published in Zoo Magazine (Germany) 2006

In an era when pop musicians make headlines with sensational behavior instead of sensational songs, Adam Green is a songwriter from another era, carefully honing his craft. With a digital recorder in his pocket at all times, he writes songs at home and on the road, while walking down the street or riding on the subway.

As one half of the 90's anti-folk megastars The Moldy Peaches, Green proved himself to be master of the unexpected lyric. In 1993 at the age of 12, he met Kimya Dawson, then 21, at an open mic in upstate New York. Undeterred by their age difference, not to mention the fact that neither knew how to play an instrument, the pair soon began collaborating. The Moldy Peaches' sophisticated, anti-folk nursery rhymes captured the times, turning Green and Dawson into modern legends.

Over the next few years, they acquired a backup band then blazed a trail through the New York music scene and across the globe. As the opening act for groups such as The Strokes, their following expanded with each new city they conquered.

With the Moldy Peaches officially on hiatus Adam Green has released his fourth solo effort: Jacket Full of Danger produced by Rough Trade Records. Most children enjoy playing pirate and dream of discovering buried treasure. Listening to this album is like discovering a trunk full of riches while digging in the back yard. Adam Green has helped us discover the gold.

More complex than previous efforts Jacket Full of Danger draws on disparate influences in sly and unique ways paying homage to heroes and villains and pointing the spotlight into the dark shadows of popular culture. It pursues Green's fascination with awkward relationships, unrequited love, death and disaster. Rather than wallowing in depression however one gets the impression that somehow everything will work out in the end. This is the essence of Adam Green: optimist for the misanthropic.

In "Pay the Toll" the albums opening number, Green wryly asks the question, "How many drugs does it take to find something to do?" And then answers it himself, "Everybody, it takes two."

In an era obsessed with youth and western ideals of beauty it is truly refreshing to hear a song as subversive as "Hairy Women". Reminiscent of the film "The Ape Woman" by Marco Ferreri it reminds us that absurdity and sincerity are not mutually exclusive.

Throughout Western Europe and especially in Germany, Green has enjoyed the kind of stopped-on-the-street recognition reserved for pop idols. It would thus be simple to rest on the laurels of Europop stardom repeating proven methods of success but Green is constantly breaking new ground.

"Hey Dude" is a pared down, multi-layered, Doors-esque song with a staccato opening that references not only Jim Morrison but the German team of Brecht and Weil as well. He even invokes Lotte Lenya and her spoken phrase delivery.

Novotel, the song that takes its name from a German hotel chain, plays like a movie soundtrack. Frantic and beautiful, it marches forward to the sound of violins.

All the women in the factory
When their faces blow a fuse
It's a miracle
I have to feed them facts to be alone
Magnifico, oh! -- Novotel

"Cast a Shadow" reaffirms Green's mastery of the pop genre. It is a gem from the pirate's trove that could be a top ten single in any country.

Jacket Full of Danger is a carnival ride of music a little over 30 minutes in length. At times dark and brooding and at others playful and ironic but always one hundred percent Adam Green. Das ist sehr gut!