Jonathan Coulton speaks to the outcast in all of us, in the voices of characters we know from our own sad little lives. Some of them may be monsters - mad scientists, giant squids, zombies - but his talent is in turning offbeat subjects into deliciously hooky pop songs that move us in surprisingly personal ways.
His upcoming album, Artificial Heart, produced by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, is due out this Fall. It's a new direction for Coulton - he leaves behind the home recording gear for a studio filled with talented musicians and guest vocalists including Suzanne Vega, John Roderick of The Long Winters and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara.
The album opens with “Sticking to Myself”, a blistering, high-energy song about finding success, and then tearing it all down. “Nemeses” is a duet between Coulton and The Long Winters’ John Roderick that suggests the only real way to bring meaning into your life is to find your own worst enemy. “Good Morning Tucson” is a highly singable pop song about an aging morning news anchor who one day finally loses it. The album’s title track, “Artificial Heart," has a bouncy, joyful melody that can't quite mask the feeling that drastic measures are sometimes worse than the problems they are trying to solve.
Artificial Heart is Jonathan Coulton’s first album of all new material since his infamous 2006 “Thing A Week” series, during which he created 52 musical pieces in 52 weeks. It's a strong addition to an already impressive discography that spans a decade. His song “Still Alive” is the closing soundtrack to the video game “Portal," and was awarded “Best Original Vocal Pop Song” in 2008 by the Game Audio Network Guild. This year, Coulton was asked back to write “Want You Gone," a song for Portal’s long awaited sequel.