Like his previous projects, Run DMT and Salvia Plath, Michael Collins’ first release as Drugdealer fully embraces the hallmarks of ’60s psychedelic pop: weird and warped sounds (like the demonic cackle that morphs into a warbling horn on the album’s final track), loosely strummed acoustic guitars, “la la la”’s by the ton and a reverence for altered states of consciousness. Throughout his career, Collins has used absurdity as a foil for sincere sentiment, and The End of Comedy is no exception; even when it veers towards the whimsical, it can’t help but radiate joy.
Collins, who used to travel the country by freight train, wrote and recorded The End of Comedy in an extensive list of cities—from Los Angeles to Baltimore; Vancouver to Rockaway Beach, New York City—with an equally lengthy list of collaborators. As a result, the album plays like a blurry, delightful travelogue, capturing Collins’ rambling odyssey from coast to coast. While he’s certainly the project’s ringleader, more often than not it’s his pals who take center stage. Collaborators like Ariel Pink, Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering (who steals the show on both the album’s title track and the halting lead single “Suddenly”) and Sheer Agony’s Jackson MacIntosh raise their voices more than Collins himself. The End of Comedy maintains the palette of his past work, but this time around, Michael Collins has honed in on the age-old maxim that we’re only as good as the company we keep.
—Max Savage Levenson