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Album review: Bo Burnham’s ‘Words Words Words’

By Jason Cunningham

Bo Burnham’s second album, Words Words Words, takes the 19-year-old comedian’s brand of awkward and politically incorrect humor and cements him as one of the most seriously driven, confident and mostly self-hating artists of our generation.

The album opens with the catchy title track “Words, Words, Words.” The song’s fast pace and devilish wordplay set the tone for the bulk of the album. The following track “Oh Bo” is the only other studio track on the album. Both songs pop back up later during the remainder of the album, which is a collection of live recordings from Burnham’s May 21 performance at The House of Blues in Boston. That performance also aired on Comedy Central before it was released on DVD simultaneously with the album. While it’s fun to hear how both of these songs sounded live during the performance, their presence didn’t seem necessary and the live versions should have been cut from the track list. The studio versions showcase Burnham in a polished light that makes the possibility of future recording ventures from within the booth seem worth waiting for.

Burnham’s newfound aplomb distinguishes the comic most during his traditional stand-up portions which are unaccompanied by music and performed in-between songs. Within this assurance Burnham reveals his darker side, displaying a serious disgust towards society, religion, the entertainment industry and even his own art. Tracks like “Art is Dead”, “Rant”, and “A Prayer/How Do We Fix Africa?” propel Burnham’s brand of satire and commentary with full political force.

Burnham started performing songs in his bedroom when he was 16, recording videos for his YouTube. Since then his YouTube has had over 70 million hits. Burnham currently has a movie in development with Judd Apatow, who gave him a minor role in 2009’s Funny People.