Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

 |   |  1 min read

Owen Pallett: Midnight Directives
Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

If you didn't already know anything about Canadian Pallett, from just a couple of tracks here you'd pick him for an arranger more than a singer/songwriter. Here he unloads a container of electronics (strings, keyboards, loops) into his lyrically dense songs.

This is an album which can be as oppressive as it impressive.

Pallett has done arrangements for Arcade Fire, Mountain Goats, Grizzly Bear, Mika and many others and this is his third solo outing (although the previous two appeared as Final Fantasy).

Pallett says this is a concept album about a farmer called Lewis and certainly Lewis appears in these 12 songs (as well as "Owen" who is seemingly also God, so we're talking grand conceit here) which are lyrically abstruse and sometimes awkward.

"Lead on, oh horse of mine, we will voice our satisfactions. Karma is the concatenation of your actions" and "If pathos is borne, borne [sic] out of bullshit, in formal attire cue the Bulgarian Men's Choir" and "Government rule established by a dazzling light show, a hegemony armoured with a thousand watt head and seven inches of echo"

Yes, there does seem a religious/political theme here: Lewis (?) commits suicide towards the end "whizzing off the clifftop, listening to the spatter thirty floors below, down come the vultures, I will not be your fuel anymore" and then the narrator (Owen/God) returns with the observation "despite the difficulties of my story, despite discomforts, despite myself, I reaffirm my endless devotion to the belief that we're all of value, we're all of virtue . . ."

I can see this staged very elaborately (Pallett who is gay should get to design the costumes, that would be something to see). But an operatic production would probably need surtitles because Pallett is no great shakes as a singer and his vocals -- like those on early Eno albums, get buried or are just in service of the song as part of the instrumentation.

Overwrought, overlong, pretentious and portentous.

Yes, it is wide and deep, and the jury is still out. But frankly, it's looking bad.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

U2: No Line on the Horizon (Universal)

U2: No Line on the Horizon (Universal)

Just a thought: would U2 be better without Bono? That isn't a comment on his ego and political activities -- which I have no issue with, everyone has an ego and I think he's done some decent... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air. But more importantly in the real world... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

After the long drought came the flood: just 10 days on from Herbie Hancock’s Auckland concert in early 2007 came that by Chick Corea, a keyboard player whose jazz career is equally long and... > Read more

NO REGRETS; A ROCK'N'ROLL MEMOIR by ACE FREHLEY

NO REGRETS; A ROCK'N'ROLL MEMOIR by ACE FREHLEY

One of the more unusual and least played albums in my collection is Spaceways: A Salute to Ace Frehley from the mid Nineties on which people like Sebastian Bach, Gilby Clarke, Tracii Guns, Dimebag... > Read more