During the darkest days of the Bush era, David Cross seemed like the perfect, hilariously outraged voice of reason, as heard on 2002’s fantastic Shut Up, You Fucking Baby! and 2004’s It’s Not Funny. His new album, Bigger And Blackerer, shows his voice still resonates in the more hopeful Obama era. It’s perfectly timed in that regard: When Cross toured in fall ’09, the rush of Obama’s victory had worn off, while the rancor of town-hall meetings remained fresh. Those are perfect targets for Cross’ biting humor, and he spends plenty of time on his favorite go-to punching bag, organized religion. One long track dissects the origins of Mormonism, comparing it to Scientology, but some of Bigger And Blackerer’s best bits are more personal and observational. In the third and fourth tracks, the album’s highlights, Cross shifts from the show Intervention to the junkies in his neighborhood to a hilarious bit about the perils of going out in public while tripping on psychedelics.
Some bits fall flat (like one about a wish-granting angel), or are more shocking than funny—a problem Cross has had since the beginning, like when he did an impression of a crack baby on his first HBO special. The joke about getting special MLK license plates that say “NGR LVR,” or about buying his girlfriend two vibrators (“one for the house and one to take with her in case she’s raped”) provide the inevitable, somewhat anticlimactic did-he-really-say-that? moments. But the strength of the rest of Cross’ material has always outweighed his occasional missteps, and Bigger And Blackerer shows him in fine form—baffled, cynical, and as funny as ever.