Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Owen Pallett - Heartland: A-

Owen Pallet can be an acquired taste, mostly due to his voice. Frail and often trembling, it can at times sound as if Owen is trying to converse with the melodies he creates rather than complimenting them. And when he harmonizes with himself, forget about it. The avalanche of avant garde is enough to take you out of the album, entirely. At least that's what happened to me upon first listen to certain parts of Heartland.

But look a little deeper, allow Pallett's voice to become familiar, and you will find Heartland to be quite an enriching experience. Not only is it an extremely well made album, it may be the best orchestrated album of all time. You see, Owen Pallett's MO is making music with little more in mind than a full orchestra and himself. This dynamic is reinforced by his live shows, which consist of himself, a violin, and a loop pedal recreating his albums' orchestral pieces one layer at a time. For Heartland, Pallett has the Czech Republic Philharmonic at his disposal, and he uses its musicians to their full potential. Songs like "Flare Gun" feature some breathtaking musicianship; songs where the orchestra is pushed to the forefront of the material rather than used as aural garnish.

Synthesizers, traditional pop percussion, and even bass can also be heard at various points of Heartland, all of which add another dimension to an otherwise wholly unique album. It also has a concept behind it (one I'm sure you're dying to know about) which, in context, clarifies some of Pallett's more bizarre lyrics. Heartland isn't to be missed as well made music for any modern music neophyte.


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