If Danny Elfman’s new album surprises you, just know that it surprised him, too.
“This wasn’t a record I ever planned on making,” confesses Elfman. “At times, I had no idea where the music was even coming from. It was all unexpected. But I decided not to resist it either.”
Driven by primal forces seemingly beyond his control, Big Mess marks Elfman’s first solo collection in more than thirty years, but it’s no return to form. Clocking in at 18 tracks, the sprawling, ambitious double album finds the Grammy and Emmy Award-winning composer breaking bold new ground as both a writer and a performer, drawing on a dystopian palette of distorted electric guitars, industrial synthesizers and orchestra in an effort to exorcise the demons brought about by four years of creeping fascism and civil rot.
The songs here call to mind everything from Nine Inch Nails, to David Bowie to XTC at times, balancing dense, harmonically complex arrangements with biting, acerbic wit as they reckon with the chaos and confusion of the modern world. Elfman wrote almost all of the record during quarantine, and while the anger, frustration, and isolation of it all is palpable in his delivery, Big Mess is about more than simply blowing off steam. In making the space to truly sit with his emotions and write without limitations, Elfman achieved a kind of artistic liberation on the record that had been eluding him for decades, rediscovering his voice and reinventing himself all at once in the process.