David E. Johnston is hosting a dance party like no other. His songs fizz with sugary synth-pop hooks and undeniable grooves. These invigorating electro-pop songs move your body, and, if you listen closely, they will stir your soul. 

Today, he bravely steps forward with his sophomore album, The Perfect Son , by his electro-percussive band, Gift of Tongues. It’s a dynamic and cohesive 15-song collection of synth-pop, folk-tronica, and ambient vocal electronica. 

His musicality flows spontaneously without trying to mimic or consciously capture an aesthetic. David writes on a keyboard, and what comes out organically invites comparisons to 1980s new wave/synth pop, 1970s disco, and more contemporary electronic artists such as The Knife, Planningtorock, and Zeigeist. David is an emotionally visceral writer whether he’s writing about a man he loves or about a traumatic experience. Signature to his musings is often an intriguing juxtaposition between his words and his music.

Gift of Tongues’ debut, Songs Of My People, has also been a critical success. Indiemunity highlights David’s conceptual writing, saying: “{Songs of My People} alludes to the American Dream that has seemed to mutate from its original promises to a politically correct idyll with references to The Star Spangled Banner.” Indie World Music dives deep into David’s overarching artistry, summing his work up thusly: “When poetic lyrics, enticing rhythms and melodies, and theatrical displays of sound come together unabashed, Songs Of My People results.” 

On The Perfect Son , David courageously faces the darkness of that childhood. “All the stories and anecdotes shared on the album came from this kid, the perfect son. At a young age, I felt and acted different from other boys — I felt ‘wrong’, and I think that was because I was gay, without knowing it, of course. I think the shame of this difference led me to be the silent ‘perfect son’ who didn't want any focus on himself,” David reveals. 

Musically, the album furthers the Gift of Tongues aesthetic as established on Songs of My People , yet it integrates acoustic guitar and even a few playful pop songs (“Fountain of Youth” and “Nightlife”). On “The Flood” David explores his mother’s faith and the hellfire and damnation dogma of her church. Here, he sings in a robust low-register vocal accompanied by rousing synth-pop, a blend of ethereal textures, fizzy beats, and almost gospel backing vocals. The song’s chorus uses biblical imagery for arresting emotionality. 

“Useless” is classic Gift of Tongues. The song is a blissed-out dance track with treated vocals, moody textures, and incessant beats. Underneath this club banger is a powerful display of vulnerability. David sings: I feel so useless in this world/I feel unwanted in this world/God dealt me a bad hand this time/Stacked the deck so the odds weren’t on my side/I meant it to matter that I was around/I feel so useless to you now . “It’s a love song about flying high then plummeting down - a dark dance song about unrequited love for another man,” David shares. 

An emotional album centerpiece is “The Art Of Loneliness,” which sounds triumphant, but, upon closer listen, feels tragic. It’s a dance-pop smash powered by springy beats and lathered in atmospheric synths and infectious melodies. The lyrics here are the closest one gets to a private monologue with David trying to convince himself loneliness isn’t such a painful situation. “I’m attempting to trick myself into thinking being alone isn’t so bad,” he says with a laugh. 

The Perfect Son closes with the stirring title track. On top of bittersweet melodicism and mid-tempo synth-pop grooves, David shares his own story. His vocals here are weary but also coolly detached. He powerfully sings the lines: Born with an old soul he felt things so deeply/‘You're always so sensitive,’ his heart darkened quickly/But old souls have old wounds/And old wounds always have scars/Some find them beautiful/Some turn them to art. It is these words that epitomize David’s life and music as he’s turned those scars into beautiful music on The Perfect Son .