5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Interesting & Beautiful,
This review is from: Heartland (Audio CD)
Owen Pallett drops his Final Fantasy moniker, probably in part to distance from the game but also, one suspects, to give those who've noticed him on sleevenotes the chance to investigate this new work. The eagle eyed will have noticed that since the release of his last album his profile has risen thanks to string arrangements for the likes of Arcade Fire, Beruit, and The Last Shadow Puppets. So perhaps it's only right that he steps more clearly into the limelight for his solo work.
Augmemented by the St Kitts Winds and the Czech Sympony Stings this is a bold and interesting work. It has a distinclty classical feel to it sometimes resembling more of a song cycle than a conventional pop record. It feels grandiouse but not pretentious. There is a kind of concept to it but it doesn't seem like a concept album as the theme itself doesn't seem to drive home too obviously. It sounds rather beautiful and should please anyone familiar with Pallett's work as Final Fantasy and anyone else who is curious and wants something a little different may also find this worthwhile.
It doesn't always work. Pallett's voice seems consciously to be mixed down on a number of the tracks, which leaves you somewhat straining to hear the lyrics clearly on tracks such as opener "Midnight Directives" and "Mount Alpentine". If it is about the concept then this is something of hinderance.
That said the overall effect of these songs is rather beautiful so the irritation is minor. "The Great Elsewhere" reminds of something that could have appeared on one of Scott Walker's more recent albums but the album takes off in the final half of the album where the songwriting seems both stronger and more memorable. "Oh Heartland Up Yours" and "E Is For Estranged" are both understated gems whilst "Flare Gun" and "Lewis Takes His Shirt Off" are delightfully melodic and display Pallett's ability to write pop tunes. "Tryst With Mephistophlese" and "What Will Happpen Now" close off the album impressively.
This is a rather bewitching work, somewhat leftfield to some tastes - especially those familar with the kind of records usually released by Domino - but it is worth persevering with.