Mike Doughty: Yes and Also Yes

Doughty's latest solo offers provides fun hooks and plenty of nuggets to reward multiple listens.

Mike Doughty

Yes and Also Yes

US Release: 2011-08-29
UK Release: 2011-08-29
Label: Snack Bar/Megaforce/Sony RED

Mike Doughty came to a sort of prominence leading the band Soul Coughing, and it's obligatory to refer to him as being ex- of that band, which disbanded a decade ago for a number of reasons. By this point, though, he's recorded more music as a solo artist, and it might be that his post-band career will be the era that has a more lasting impact. He's developed a specific sound over the last decade that is sleekier and more listener-friendly than his Soul Coughing work, but not entirely divorced from the bounce of that band. New release Yes and Also Yes (his fifth solo album, depending on how you're counting) seems to crystallize his approach to rhythmic grooves and strange, witty lyrics.

If there's a comfortable sort of maturity on this album, there's no loss of playfulness. Despite the album's affirming title, the disc opens on a negative note with “Na Na Nothing”, a trick of sequencing that puts a single and one of the top tracks first while making a joke with the structure. If Doughty's quick to find out he's “a chump” and meditate on the nothingness exchanged in this relationship, he's also slyly letting us know that he's not buying into it. He begins with “Well, your man won't dance but I will / He's just a cup of punch that you'll spill,” combining bravado with a quick put-down to all concern. The cleverness comes out of hurt, sure, but with an attitude that pushes past the hurt.

Even in the seriousness of the album we find games at hand. “Makelloser Mann” comes entirely in German, and while the “immaculate man” of the title suggests a Teutonic precision, the song itself doesn't carry the weight of continental philosophy. As one of the four songs on the album that last under two minutes, it's a bit of a throwaway, despite its great catchiness and its ability to generate traffic to Babel Fish. If there's a threat of getting na na nothing on the album, it's undone by this sort of goofiness.

Play aside, Doughty's not a comedian (not exactly) and the album has its dark sides. We should be tipped off by his shaking a duloxetine capsule as a piece of percussion. It's an antidepressant finding its teleological end externally, which says something that only that makelloser mann could get to. At any rate, we're led to cuts like “The Huffer and the Cutter”, a gloomy piece about a huffer and a cutter. The best these two can find might be that “she was there and he was there”, unless they realize that “love made them beautiful at last”, a concept that Doughty suggests and undermines throughout his own song.

At the opposite side of this grind, “Holiday (What Do You Want?)” delivers a Christmas song (we're told) and a Roseanne Cash duet. The pop music and the verses provide a sort of contentment that the chorus's use of the title's parenthetical question can't overcome even if it resists it. This sort of internal conflict, but not it only, keeps the music interesting. When Doughty sings “Rational Man”, it's easy to take him at face-value, but it's easier and more entertaining to be suspicious, and he's artfully led us to that point of indecision.

Whether Yes and Also Yes rationally works out some dialectics or irrationally resists settling, it contains enough indeterminacy to harbor repeat-listen nuggets. Fortunately it also comes with Doughty's hooks and a melodic sensibility on top his decades-evident ability to groove.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.