Daniel Johnston

Fear Yourself

Manic-depressive singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston is painfully obsessed with the concept of love, but he just can’t give up hope in its redemptive power. On Fear Yourself, aided by the gorgeous, intricately layered production of Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous, Johnston conjures up a suite of songs exploring the themes of love both cosmic and personal. In “Love Enchanted” Johnston warbles earnestly in his fractured tenor, “Love will wash your brain/ Haunt you like a ghost/ It really is the most,” over Linkous’ downy Gothic bed of mellotron, optigan, synth stings and piano. His tortured-naïf persona and gallows humor depict a soul both hopeful of attaining cosmic transcendence and resigned to the tragicomic foibles of flesh-driven desires. Despite Johnston’s unfortunate reputation as an amusing freak, this is an album that deserves to be attentively listened to, and maybe even taken to heart.