Daniel Johnston, The What Of Whom

Jeff Feuerzeig

By Jeff Feuerzeig

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

August 1982, brought another masterpiece — a songwriter at his peak and a man on the edge — what a combo. Unrequited love and his own mental illness have now emerged as central themes in Daniel's work, and who would have thought they could be so much fun? The What of Whom sounds like a party record (albeit a party of one) as Daniel sings his heart out and bashes the ivories on these mostly very uptempo numbers. Rather than just evoking Elvis Costello on this outing, Daniel literally morphs into Mr. McManus on "Man Obsessed" — and his aim is true. "Peek A Boo," "Scuttle Butt," "Wicked World," and "Scrambled Eggs" also have so many wonderful and humorous turns of phrase that you'd swear that John Kennedy Toole had left behind a cassette of songs in addition to A Confederacy of Dunces before tragically offing himself. Here's a desert island disc if there ever was one.