Dan Latner – No Fun Intended


Dan Latner – No Fun Intended

Dan, you meant it. The ‘fun’ part of your album. It’s deliberate, you’re doing it on purpose. The title and unhappy face cover is designed solely to confuse CD and download buyers into thinking that they’re getting some woeful tales of unrequited love and lust, of unshaven nights spent under a boxcar, of too much whiskey and not enough water, of anguish, fear and somewhere among it all, redemption, new beginnings, lights at the ends of the tunnels. That is all here, but no musician I’ve heard recently has wallowed in his miseries with quite so much gusto as Dan Latner is doing, and singing about it with the unaffected glee of a man who went to the dark side, only to find it was early closing on Tuesdays.

But seriously Dan, while you and your backing band kick up a regular ol’ hootenanny with the guitars and banjos and whatnot, just where is it all going with the second track and its “I haven’t brushed my teeth in two days, but I’m still gonna give you a kiss” refrain? Is there any connection to the subject of first track “Northern Canada”, who “moved away to where I can’t stand the cold”? Like, hint? Third track “In A Hotel” borrows the orchestral intro of “I Am The Walrus” and manages to at least appear a bit more serious, as Dan buys some toothpaste and reflects upon what could have been had The Beatles stayed together, including “inventing dubstep in 1976” and other ruminations that only lead back to the gap in his life left by his now Arctically located significant other.

Fifth track “Bored” is a riposte to all these bad vibes: “The atmosphere is overcast, too vast and awfully dull / empty and heavy and emotional” sings Dan over a bluegrass backing that positively yells its joyousness and defiance of tedium, ennui, the soul-crushing finality of discovering that you need a new toothbrush. Anyhow, dental hygiene aside, Dan and cohorts bring the backwoods boogie to its fullest realisation with “The Downside” and its quickstep jug band aesthetic which reconfigures the alt.folk sound into a more traditional although far from staid or overly pastiched form, and its lyric speaks of the rediscovery of exactly why everyone should brush more often – “That’s the way it goes / when I’m smelling all your toes”. Wait a minute.

Comedy in music is a tightrope for some, an open freeway for others. I can count on one hand the bands that I think did comedy well and have two fingers left over and Dan Latner isn’t, in the dictionary definition of the noun, a comedian, at least as far as I know. He certainly has a sharply turned phrasing and his backing band never miss a string amidst the frenetic picking and plucking of instruments and it’s the music that really carries it on No Fun Intended, while Dan regales us with yet more tales of those missed dental appointments. Yee ha.