After his brilliant 2014 Red Hot Chili Peppers spoof, “Abracadabralifornia,” was released on 45 for Record Store Day a couple of years back, hopes for a full-length album of Jon Daly’s oddball songs started to build. Would he unleash more songs that would completely confuse Red Hot Chili Pepper fans? Or would this comedy genius team with a who’s who of indie musicians and comedians for an equally baffling collection of songs? (The second one. It’s the second one.)
Who is Jon Daly, you might ask? You’ve probably seen him on something, but you might not recognize him right off the bat. Daly first gained some notoriety as a regular around the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in LA, later writing and performing on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show and Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show. Nothing? He pops up all over the place The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mystery Team, Miracle Workers, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Does that ring a bell?
No? Well, you might recognize his voice alongside Patton Oswalt’s from the recently canceled Marvel show M.O.D.O.K., where Daly voiced Super-Adaptoid, the self-proclaimed “high-tech robot with an artist’s soul.” Daly has also done several voice cameos on shows like Bob’s Burgers, Tuca & Bertie, American Dad!, Big Mouth, and BoJack Horseman, where he was often credited as “additional voices.”
Still no? He’s one of those funny guys that always looks a little unhinged, but in a way that says, “comedy genius.” Listen, if you saw him, you’d recognize him. Then you’d be like, “Oh, Jon Daly. The guy from Search Party.” And then I’d be like, no, that’s John Early. Jon Daly was the guy that played Bill Murray in A Futile and Stupid Gesture, that movie with Will Forte about The National Lampoon guy. Didn’t you see that when it came out in 2018? It was pretty good! It was on everyone’s favorite streaming service, Netflix. Come on. Is he still not ringing any bells? Just know that when Jon Daly shows up, whatever it is you’re watching just got a whole lot better.
Okay, it doesn’t matter if you know him; Jon Daly’s new album Ding Dong Delicious is highly amusing and absolutely stupid. The record compiles many of Daly’s songs released over the past couple of years. I’ve always enjoyed Daly’s work because of his ability to make something stupid or mundane funny again. He’ll take an idea that’s been long exhausted and breathe new life into it. We’re decades past the idea of us all being obsessed with our devices. We’ve come to accept that so many parts of our lives have been taken over by being on our phones or doom scrolling on Twitter. On “Addicted to Computers,” Daly points out the obvious in a nasal drone, all the while sounding like a watered-down version of Kraftwerk and DEVO. “My Friends” sees Daly sitting at a party with Nick Thorburn of Islands, making fun of everyone. Both tracks are catchy as hell and completely dumb, but damn, they will stick in your head.
On Ding Dong Delicious, Daly worked with multi-instrumentalist/producer Cyrus Ghahremani, whose impressive resume includes being one of the first employees of the Earwolf podcast network and being a past member of Man Man. Ghahremani helps Daly jump from one style of music to another with ease. There’s the twangy country of “Eatin’ Pussy with DJ Khaled” (“while Afrojacks off in the corner of my mind…”), the Celtic folk song “Whistle Tap Jonny” with Brett Gelman (Stranger Things), or blues-rock of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Sitcom.” Remember that ska revival people were chatting about last year? You’ll want to forget about it after hearing “Bring Back Ska,” a song that highlights every reason ska bands should break up after high school graduation.
The dreamy, shoegaze track “Profile Picture” features a duet with indie rocker Colleen Green. It’s about the lives we fantasize about when only looking at someone’s profile picture and shows off a tender side of Daly’s writing that includes some smirks but also speaks plenty true. Helen Keller has been the butt of many comedians’ jokes, but Daly revives that stupidity without going only for the low-hanging fruit picked so many times before. Instead, he sings an upbeat 80s-style synth-laden anthem, complete with a sax solo by Daly himself. It’s impossible not to laugh when Daly sings, “you’re one Hell of a Keller” in a faux-rocker tone.
However, the track that’s worth the price of admission is “The Snowman (2017),” Daly’s meta song about the poorly conceived psychological thriller starring Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole. (No, really. That’s the character’s name.) It’s a story that was asking to be roasted, and Daly does it in a way that only he can: by singing as the titular killer, in a Dracula voice, in a “Monster Mash” style song, delivering a Wikipedia-level rundown of the plot, and using the killer’s lame calling card of “Mr. Police, I gave you all the clues” for the chorus. Makes sense. Daly takes a movie that sounds like a comedy bit and still manages to point out how much more absurd it truly is.
Breaking these songs down to their raw elements might not make them sound fun, but even comedy’s simplest laughs can be complex. The brilliance is in the execution. Jon Daly knows this record is dumb, but it’s also apparent how personal of a work this record is. Putting aside all the laughs, the record ends with “Love is So Simple,” a straightforward, New Order-ish track done in earnest, and it’s fantastic. When you love something, you put your all into it, and Daly gives himself to every track. Ding Dong Delicious might be the stupidest album you hear all year, but it is also a showcase for just how talented Daly is beyond all the laughter and foolishness.
Jack Probst is a writer and record collector from St. Louis. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson, and Super Mario. Send any and all complaints to @jackdprobst on Twitter. He enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.