Calling Phonogram pretentious would be a little like calling the sun hot when asked for its exact temperature in Kelvin. Between the endless glossary (which features some of Gillen’s best writing in the issue) and the story itself, Phonogram reads a little like that friend who knows oh so much more about music than you do and tells you about it at every opportunity. Of course, Gillen’s sort of making fun of that sort of person… but he doesn’t do it in an interesting way.
His protagonist, David, uses his musical insight to have casual sex with strangers. It’s Swingers meets High Fidelity, without a thoughtfully written protagonist. What’s Gillen’s solution for having an underwritten protagonist—he narrates a lot. Very pop first person narration. It’s like a Tarantino script.
But Phonogram does have McKelvie’s art and it’s nice.
And it is mildly amusing to read a hipster comic book.