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

Various Artists: The Active Listener Sampler 28 (activelistener)

Various Artists: The Active Listener Sampler 28 (activelistener)

The generous Nathan Ford out of Wellington continues his unique vision of psychedelic-cum-tripfolk compilations with this wee gem, one of the most persuasive in his already vast catalogue. A... > Read more

THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2013: THE EDITOR'S TOP 30

THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2013: THE EDITOR'S TOP 30

By my approximate count, Elsewhere has written reviews or overviews on about 200 albums this past year (mostly new releases but also reissues, compilations and so on). Most of those reviews... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BEATLES, THE RISHiKESH ALBUM (2017): A lost album found at last

THE BEATLES, THE RISHiKESH ALBUM (2017): A lost album found at last

The discovery last week of a previously unknown Beatles' studio album from 1968 – recorded at EMI Studios in New Delhi (formerly known as Delhi) in India – has prompted the band's... > Read more

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Peter Tosh; Legalize It (Sony Legacy)

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Peter Tosh; Legalize It (Sony Legacy)

This expanded-to-double-vinyl edition re-presents the '76 debut by the former Wailer who carried a number from that band into the sessions. While Bob Marley delivered the serious Rastaman... > Read more