Giant Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Each generation gets a few complete musical geniuses, people of such sweeping talent and diversity that it almost takes your breath away when you realize how -much- they can do. One of ours is Danny Elfman, former lead vocalist of Oingo Boingo and current Hollywood composer and vocalist. While Elfman's post Oingo work is breathtaking, the band itself was no slouch; while my experience with them is limited, their pop sound, world-beat influences, and clever yet angsty wordplay influenced a lot of later artists.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So when a friend got out a CD and said, "You have to hear this, it's...weird," I acquiesced. And was promptly blown out of my chair with the sheer anger, power, and musical skill. Boingo was a 1994 project by what appears to be most of Oingo Boingo, but not released under the band's name (and why that is, I can't seem to find anywhere on the internet. Anyone got any idea?). It's laced with incisive, cutting lyrics, complex arrangements, and fierce, bright melodies, and is a powerful piece of politically themed pop music. This is the Much Less Happy Danny Elfman, and it's a whole heck of a lot of fun.

The CD starts with the scathing "Insanity," eight minutes of vicious commentary on society in general ("A million years of evolution/And we get Danny Quayle...") The intensity of the track is reminiscent of late Beatles such as "Helter Skelter," and indeed that similarity continues through tracks such as "Lost Like This" and "Mary." There is even a Beatles cover on the CD, a wonderful but bizarre cover of "I Am The Walrus.".

Other notable tracks include "Spider,""War Again," and "Can't See (Useless)." All are tight, well written, and pleasant, while still carrying the passion and anger Elfman feels for his subject material. Boingo is a joy in that it proves you don't have to be atonal to really say something about what you feel, that you don't have to only know three chords to be pissed off.

The close to the CD, "Change," is a wry summary of everything that has gone before, a distillation of Elfman's darkest moods and thoughts...set to a perky, complex harmony and chiming guitars. All at once, Elfman twists the listener into doubt and thought -- which is real? Melody or lyrics?

Boingo is a sadly-unappreciated CD. (I got my copy in a local cut out rack for six bucks.) If you have a chance, grab yourself a copy and allow yourself an hour's trip through the fears in Danny Elfman's genius mind. You won't find it a waste of time.

Rating: A-

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