“Future Boy Today/Man Of Tomorrow”
The Universe & Me
Tobin Sprout has always been an asskicker, and it’s so nice to see and hear that he still has it. As usual, Sprout, former leader of Guided By Voices, decided to record music to bring the child in us all’s curiosity to light. That he does very well. As his publicity states, Sprout felt:
the answer is to revisit it with the wounded tenor of an aging piano man; someone searching, desperately, for his place in the cosmos. The Universe and Me is Sprout’s sixth solo album; hatched during a seven-year gestation period that included unearthing lost recordings (the single, “Future Boy Today/Man of Tomorrow” for one, was being saved for GBV), and digging through a treasure chest of memories in his home studio in Michigan, where Sprout composed behind his shambling grand piano and trembling, boyish voice. Each home recording was captured live with Sprout’s new band — which led to marvelous imperfections.
The Universe and Me takes a deliberately primitive approach that focuses on feeling, as opposed to production. The result is a vague bridge between the ballads of psych-era Beatles, and the haunting vulnerability of Daniel Johnston’s Hi, How Are You?. It’s no surprise, then, that Sprout penned and illustrated his own magical children’s books as TheUniverse and Me plays like a deceptively dense reimagining of simple subjects like comic books, finding your purpose in life, and growing old.
This is a tremendous accomplishment, not surprising from a man who has always been in the forefront of the new and radical. Sprout is a great singer/songwriter, and it’s so nice to see him back doing what he does so well.