Monday, January 18, 2010

Reviews:: Owen Pallett Heartland

It seems almost impossible for the critics to separate what people think of Owen Pallett the man from the music he creates. His story, his views; when it comes to a critical eye (or maybe, more accurately, a compelling way to craft), his inner nerd is as crucial to describing his music as M.I.A.'s homeland is to hers.

The thing is, I don't really know anything about Pallett as a human being. Other than cursory references, most of the common talking points are things I've never been interested in. That probably has a lot to do with my limited interest in much of Final Fantasy's previous work. Up until now, it's been impossible to disregard Palett's talent or not be moved by the power of seeing him perform live, but for me that's as deep as I've ever explored Final Fantasy.

As a result, Heartland sat in my inbox for over a week before I even downloaded the record. Obviously I knew it would be immaculately crafted, full of whimsy and staccato bursts that sound terrific in the intimate confines of my headphones, but I wasn't sure what else I would be able to say about the songs. What I didn't know was that Heartlands was a pop record that satisfies any immediate need for melody and power, but balances it with a sonic density built from a collage of sounds that seems bigger than life.

Ironically, as Owen drops his former moniker and offers himself just as a human being, the songs are much more involved than his previous violin-looped efforts. Owen has worked hard on arrangements for countless artists over the last few years and he puts that experience to work on Heartland, his concept album about a farmer. The record is a slow building arc that lets Owen fuses strings, percussion and electronics, displaying a deft orchestral touch, pop sensibility and an understanding of climax and power.

As the young artist moves us through his fictional world, the decision to step out from behind the curtain and reveal himself - not only by name, but by sound and emotion - helps this record immensely. The story - obviously yes, it's important to the record - isn't essential to the experience. Often times we focus on the narrative, not the beautiful sounds attached, but at least for now, it's Pallett's sonic palette that excites me. In a much different package, The Thermals The Body, The Blood,The Machine was the same type of record. If you focused on analyzing Hutch's words, it became easy to disregard the songs and I hope that doesn't become the case when people start digesting Heartland.

When you take a step back and simply listen to the delightful pop of Lewis Takes Action, the theatrical drama of or the electronic driven lines of the poignant and surging The Great Elsewhere you realize that Owen may be a complex human being, but more importantly he's a truly gifted artist. There's not a moment of the record that I don't find riveting, which is as shocking to me as any of the changes and decisions Pallett made on this effort. Heartlands makes me feel like I know more about Owen as a human being than any interview or analysis ever could.

MP3:: Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Off His Shirt

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Posted at 7:29 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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