B.A. Johnston: Thank You For Being a Friend

B.A. Johnston: Thank You For Being a Friend
I was introduced to B.A. Johnston through his incredible irreverent single “Taste the Shame”. The track sounded similar to The Mountain Goats to me with the same type of sharp sarcasm that could be found on John Darnielle’s early work. But I was not sure if Johnston was trying to be comical or not until I saw the cover art for his album, Thank You For Being a Friend.  The cover art features Johnston heading a cast of characatures including John Candy, the Hamburglar, and a gremlin.  After seeing it I knew B.A. Johnston was kind of a smart ass.
From the album title which is a reference to the Golden Girls’ theme song to song titles like “Love = NBA Jam” and “Steve Guttenburg”, the album is dripping in snark. But it takes more than a Rik Smits reference to win me over, there has to be some pop element to really make these songs work. I look at “CILF”; the acronym stands for car I’d like to fuck. While the concept is humorous enough to produce a rye grin, it is the poppy folk melodies that kept me interested for the full minute-and-thirty-three seconds.
To be fairly generally, I find Johnston’s less pop culture referential songs to be his best. “Retro Night” includes the gem of a line “to old to have the word ‘boy’ in the title/but there ain’t no ‘bus man’/so ‘bus boy’ is what I am”. It is these type of banally humorous lines that are sprinkled throughout B.A. Johnston’s work.
With the album cover and the song titles, one might think that Thank You For Being a Friend is going to be a Weird Al-style farce, but instead Johnston’s humor can be very subtle and self-deprecating. This leads to a pretty successful album from B.A. Johnston. The album is funny and poppy but with that said, there are still some pretty dumb songs on the album.
Rating: 7.0/10
MP3: B.A. Johnston “CILF”
Buy: iTunes