Danny Elfman - Big Mess (Cover Artwork)

Danny Elfman

Big Mess (2021)


Award-winning composer Danny Elfman has been quite busy, molting four years of racism, facism, civil unrest, and a global pandemic into the double LP Big Mess. Elfman’s first solo effort in over thirty years, and perhaps some insight into the chaotic chemistry of a man’s brain, dripping over eighteen masterful songs.

Opener “Sorry” illustrates classic Elfman spook with off-kilter guitars and choral chants, before collapsing under dark vocals and cannon drumming from session special guest Josh Freese. “True” immediately jars the groove of its predecessor with orchestral strings and a cog-rotating build. It is the spastic cycling of dense guitar distortion or industrial synthesizers, and their smashing between organic orchestral or acoustic instrumentation that make Big Mess such a complete and thoughtful showcase.

The demented nature to songs like “Happy,” “Love In The Time Of COVID,” or “Everybody Loves You” travel heights chartered by traveling circuses, Trent Reznor, or the Butthole Surfers, while the gaps between breathe an industrial punk sound that isn’t like anything else on bangers like “Kick Me,” “Just A Human,” or “Insects.” The resulted sonic onslaught invites incredible ballads like “In Time” or “We Belong” to be such an important emotional break for the listener, with spectacular builds and precision writing.

Elfman’s delivery is top notch, and all over the spectrum. He was quoted stating “I hadn’t really sung anything as myself in 25 years, and to my surprise, I found that I could do things now that I couldn’t have done when I was younger. It was like discovering I had a whole new voice.” From low-register brooding, raw punk sneers, spoken word, and eerie falsetto, Danny stretches this “new voice” over the entire release.

Big Mess is right on the nose with the title, but in an unforgettable way. With closed eyes the listener can actually see the mop strings sop through the puddles of shit that have festered for years while the human race stands idly by. Stunning release, much recommend.