Halfway into Selector Dub Narcotic’s debut album, during a track titled “All For the Sake of Rhymin”, musician and K Records founder Calvin Johnson unabashedly proclaims, “I is the purveyor of the world’s most primitive rap, I rhyme blue with screw, and brat with bat.” This sort of line should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with indie rock’s Sultan of Sincerity. Since 1981, Johnson has been recording and releasing his music under a variety of monikers and stylistic iterations, all with the commonality being an innocent sensibility paired with a distinctly deep voice. His latest project’s first full-length release, This Party Is Just Getting Started, is no different.
Utilizing a dance beat, disco guitar effect, and an intermittent, jazzy flute solo, This Party Is Just Getting Started opens with the record’s first single “Hotter Than Hott”. From bluesy analog organ, a seemingly limitless amount of synthesizer effects and percussive touches, as well as a healthy amount of reggae-inspired melodica, what follows are fourteen tracks that work as an eclectic (and often eccentric) forty-minute dance party.
Some of the album’s best moments include the swaggering “I Need Sum”, which recalls a groove not dissimilar to Gorillaz’ 2001 hit “Clint Eastwood”. Calvin delivers what may arguably be the most romantic crooning of his career to date on the sexy samba number “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”. This Party Is Just Getting Started’s second single, “And Stuff Like That There”, uses the beat from LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” in conjunction with rhymes about outer space, nightclubbing, and love. “Lonely Planet Puss N’ Boots” has Johnson, accompanied by a melodica and a funky rhythm, dropping thinly veiled lyrical references to The New York Dolls and Guns N’ Roses.
Over a steady, mid-tempo beat and a climbing, effects-laden, synth melody, the spacey, reverb-heavy album closer “Every Woman” finds Calvin lovingly singing the lines, “Every woman is beautiful, every woman has tears in her eyes.” Given the variety of styles and sounds delivered throughout this collection, in addition to Johnson’s consistently unique lyrical and vocal moments, the record’s final song manages to come across as simultaneously heartwarmingly tender and appropriately weird. Overall, This Party Is Just Getting Started is a fun listen from beginning to end that will no doubt inspire listeners to move their bodies and hopefully encourage new fans to explore Calvin Johnson’s thirty-plus year career as an influential independent musician and cultural curator.