The walls of Kenny Becker’s apartment are vivid landscapes of color. The frontman of the LA-based indie rock quartet Goon is also an accomplished painter, and he surrounds himself with the fruits of his labor—a series of landscapes, portraits, and abstract pieces united by the vibrancy of their shared primary color palette.
Many of these lively pieces, however, were made at a time when the artist felt anything but. Becker suffers from a rare medical condition that periodically deadens his sense of smell and hearing, which for years shaded his day-to-day life with a dull pallor. “I basically just felt sick all the time,” says Becker. “When it gets really bad, I can’t even taste.” The paintings, therefore, are, like his music, aspirational—embedded with a sense of longing for something known but not always felt.
In the middle of the room—the centerpiece of an otherwise spartan setup—is Becker’s home studio. A small arsenal of guitars, synthesizers, tape machines and recording equipment surround the desk where he wrote and recorded Goon’s latest EP, Happy Omen, a collection of emotive, cautiously optimistic songs about longing, loneliness, and self-doubt. A standout track, the gorgeous, soaring “She,” was chosen by Grizzly Bear frontman Ed Droste as the first track on his “Favorite Songs of 2017” Spotify playlist.
The slow-burning Omen is a sonic counterpoint to Goon’s first release: 2016’s Dusk of Punk, a grittier, sludgier outing that paired Becker’s distinct DIY aesthetic with his formidable songwriting chops and affinity for earworm melodies. This winning combination earned high marks from Rolling Stone, Spin, Fader, and BBC Radio Six.
The two self-released EPs will be reissued together as a package this year by Partisan, who will also release the bands’ debut full length, due in early 2019. The LP sees Becker stepping out of the bedroom and into the studio with bandmates Drew Eccleston, Caleb Wicker, and Christian Koons, who, together, continue to build on Goon’s reputation as one of LA’s must-see live acts.
In the meantime, Becker is newly optimistic. A recent successful surgery drastically improved his symptoms, and the effects were felt almost instantly. “I knew it worked as soon as I woke up,” says Becker. “I feel like I’ve entered a new chapter of health.”