It’s a sardonic nod to a self-destructive streak and, of course, to the reality of his HIV+ status, but without self-pity (children with cancer trump any personal complaints, he wryly notes).
At the heart of this reaction was an ingrained homophobia made even uglier by fears and misconceptions regarding AIDS, which the singer, ironically enough, had not yet contracted.
If this isn’t the kind of album Mercury himself would have produced had he lived to see growing acceptance of LGBTQ issues, then it is certainly one on which he would have lent his voice (and can one imagine how majestic the shared, soaring vocals of Mercury and Grant would have been).
Grant has explained that the album’s title is an amalgamation of the literal translation of the Icelandic phrase for “mid-life crisis” and the Turkish word for “nightmare”.
Listening to this album, I think of Freddie Mercury, whose outrageousness was nonetheless tempered by his inability to be, simply, out.
Grant shares Mercury’s propensity for tongue-in-cheek grandiloquence and pop culture reference points (Think “Don’t Stop Me Now” or “Bicycle Race”).
Mercury’s iconic martyrdom of the past decade obscures that fact that the American music audience of the early 1980s demonized his attempts to peak from behind the door of his closeted sexuality.When Mercury demanded that his band abandon their long-held “no synths” policy and then introduced dance elements from the Munich club scene to their albums, most notably on Hot Space, many fans and the music press turned on him.John Grant’s latest, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, opens and closes with a recitation of 1 Corinthians 13, the popular “wedding prayer”, setting both a confrontational and celebratory tone.Grant mixes both elements throughout the album: he damns the “slack-jawed troglodytes” of our zombified age in “Global Warming” while, in “Snug Slacks”, he sings “You know it takes an ass like yours to make possible for me / to have developed such a very high tolerance for inappropriate behavior”. This is his most sensual album, meant to be danced to and seduced by (or during), though it is no less a listener’s album, as Grant’s lyrics reveal him to be emboldened by progress yet enraged by those social forces still aligned to slow or quell it.The whirls, blips, and bloops of analog synthesizers, dominate the album’s sonics as Grant reaches back to the hedonistic dance clubs of late ‘70s New York City, Berlin, and other underground, pansexual scenes for inspiration.In the title song Grant even voices his wish to be transported back to 1970s NYC so that he can contract all the new diseases in their nascent forms.