AOTY 2019
Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2015 Ratings: #124 / 772
Year End Rank: #50
User Score
Based on 308 ratings
2015 Ratings: #132
March 17, 2015 / Release Date
LP / Format
True Panther / Label
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NOW Magazine

Goon is an indisputable triumph and a staggering opening statement from pop music's newest Piano Man.

Northern Transmissions

Goon is a classic pop masterpiece built around Jesso’s own naivety and innocence, and instead of feeling like an effort milked by record label executives to promote musical purity, Jesso’s untainted craftsmanship comes away remarkably unaffected and sheer.

Consequence of Sound

Jesso writes with fragility at the forefront. The fact that he doesn’t realize how pure his songwriting is makes it that much better.


Goon is mostly excellent slow songs about heartbreak, about the fear of failure, about losing your direction and hoping to find it. 


Jesso has a knack for writing songs that you feel like you’ve heard before, even if you can’t quite pin down a precise antecedent. Which is another way of saying he writes songs that sound "classic" in the best sense of the word.

A.V. Club

For all its emotional oscillation—from lust, to feeling used, remorse, then impatience—Goon never feels disjointed, partly because the songs are sewn together by the album’s ongoing lyrical obsessions.


Gloopy, orchestral and lovingly plumped up with strings and skronking brass ... it's driven by 29-year-old Jesso’s huge personality and sounds designed to stay with you.

The 405

His voice, along with his piano, is crisp and clear throughout the album, but it also contains enticing nuances that mysteriously enthralls. 

The Line of Best Fit

He doesn’t claim to have all the answers—from a strictly epistemological stand-point, Jesso Jr. makes note of how little his experiences in the world have taught him – and it is surely the simplicity of the universe on Goon that offers it and the artist their charm.

Like all good pop songwriters, Jesso Jr. is a master of making personal moments seem universal, with most of his words seeming like parts of a hazy memory rather than a concrete story.
‘Goon’ is gluttonously full of rich sounds, but it’s the running thread that counts: That voice, and its ability to sing about experiences like they’re universal stories, not a means of self-indulgence.
Pretty Much Amazing

Goon is adept enough to say what it wants to, and flawed enough to appear derived from reality.

‘Goon’ surpasses any suggestion of mediocrity by a significant margin. How and why isn’t quite so easy to pinpoint, but it clearly has a lot to do with the man himself.
Rolling Stone

His debut LP gathers 12 beautifully lean ballads sung in a vulnerable tenor, with vintage studio touches blended by sharp producers


There's not much one can do to deny the emotional weight or the eerily '70s character of Goon; it's probably best to settle into the La-Z-Boy, flick feathered hair off of your polyester lapel, grab a box of tissues, and let it be.


'Goon' is not perfect, but it's the imperfections and the straight honesty that bleeds through it that make it so appealing.

Loud and Quiet

Don’t approach this record with a jaded mindset which rejects its unoriginal theme and unchallenging style – instead, stomp down those weary-minded objections and soak in the genuinely engaging strength of the songwriting and its skilful, less-is-more delivery.


The majority of cuts on Goon still feel like demos: languidly spaced chords, carefully measured arpeggiation, and hardly anything so gauche as a groove.


Goon isn’t great, at least in terms of its ambitions, but it is a fine example of what might evolve from pure pop purpose.

The Guardian

There are certainly moments during Goon when you start to wonder if it might not be nice to hear something by an acclaimed American singer-songwriter that sounds like it was recorded in 2015, rather than 1974.

I still remember stumbling across Tobias Jesso Jr. on soundcloud a little over a year ago now, and i immediately thought that this was something special, and it turns out i was right. I think the thing i like most about this record, other than the music itself, is how "timeless" it feels. This album would have worked just as well in 1971 as it does now in 2015, and to me, the ability to make music that manages to transcend and go beyond the era in witch it is made, is what it is all ... read more
Randy Newman here.
A charming debut from Jesso Jr. He's got a knack for songwriting! These tracks are sung very passionately, Tobias's vocals are front and center and the production is clear and crisp!

Some really stand out moments on this album including Hollywood (my personal favorite track on the album), Without You, Just A Dream and Leaving LA. What makes this album special are the story-like lyrics and a lot of personality. Jesso Jr. is a talent to watch!
Tobias 😍😍😍
"Goon" hardly sounds like a record you'd expect anyone to be making (or listening to) in 2015, and that's definitely a big part of its charm; Randy Newman's name gets thrown around a lot here, but I hear as much Billy Joel. The bravery and commitment to that sound is commendable, but Jesso is so closely indebted to these styles that it sounds a lot more pastiche than it does timeless. As a result, the novelty wears off by the end of the album despite perfectly consistent songwriting ... read more
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Track List

  1. Can't Stop Thinking About You
  2. How Could You Babe
  3. Without You
  4. Can We Still Be Friends
  5. The Wait
  6. Hollywood
  7. For You
  8. Crocodile Tears
  9. Bad Words
  10. Just A Dream
  11. Leaving LA
  12. Tell The Truth
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Added on: December 22, 2014