John the Dog
Life of Me
Not in My House
Listen to Henry Hall’s debut album and three things are made immediately clear: He’s funny, he’s talented, and he knows it. Like Father John Misty or Harry Nilsson before him, Hall is an ironist and a natural showman, the kind of guy who seems to take special delight in layering his beautiful melodies and Technicolor, Vampire Weekend-like arrangements with the kind of self-aware thinking that would drive you crazy to experience and make you laugh to bear witness to.
That he leans into his neuroses instead of away from them is, of course, part of the appeal: “Not in My House” and “Guy” are Curb Your Enthusiasm-level send-ups of controlling beta men. “John the Dog” speculates that Hall's current artistic practice is probably linked to the trauma that inspired his childhood self to write songs about the dog his parents wouldn’t let him get—a rambling self-analysis heightened by the comic anxiety that the person on the receiving end might care.
But if Curb captures the solipsism of frumpy middle-aged men, Neato is a comedy about the special boy who got every gift in the world and still doesn’t know what to do with them. He says he hasn’t gotten a tattoo because he can’t decide on the design (“Tattoo”), but you know the truth: He’s probably just afraid of the needle. To paraphrase the old shampoo commercial, don’t hate him because he’s beautiful.