Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Bach, Final Fantasy, Heartland, Ludwig van Beethoven, Owen Pallett, Releases of the Week, Square Enix
PREVIEW: VISIT Owen Pallett’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 11/20
About a month ago, Owen Pallett decided to discontinue the name of his band. Formerly known as Final Fantasy, Pallett realized that he was probably about to be sued by Square Enix, the company that produces the hit video game franchise of the same name. “The laws of trademark infringement exist for good reason, and so I am voluntarily retiring my band name,” said Pallet.
When a name change accompanies a severe change in style for a band, it can spell disaster. Luckily Pallett sticks to what he knows best on his latest release Heartland. Pallett is much more of a composer then a singer or songwriter. As such, he incorporates a bevy of different instruments on Heartland. The song “Lewis Takes Action” is a great example of Pallett’s ability to compose. It incorporates a strong drum beat, a string section and Pallett’s vocals. “The Great Elsewhere” is a track that starts with a stirring string section, then utilizes an interesting sample that sounds like it came out of a 1960s sci-fi movie. The second half of the song features a string section that rises and falls beautifully.
Avoiding too much hyperbole, Pallett may be the Bach or Beethoven of indie rock. Unlike most bands, it seems like Pallett’s vocals, which are sparse, were an afterthought once the music was composed and arranged. Instead of using his vocals to drive his songs, as most artists do today, Pallett definitely employs his impressive musical arrangements to grab the listener’s attention. Avoiding the awkward, and sometimes forced struggle to arrange bass, guitar, drums and vocals within a song, Pallett’s varied soundscapes keep the music fresh and free flowing.
As one would guess, Heartland is not an album one looks to for energetic and anthemic collections of easily-accessible rock. In order to appreciate Heartland, it requires real, close listening. It’s an album that you could put on, drink a hot cup of tea and enjoy a good book with. Pallett’s craft for composing songs is something that should be recognized in full. How he orchestrates the separate sections of horns, piano, percussion and strings is marvelous. Yet at the end of the day, this album isn’t very exciting, in fact it’s quite boring. It’s good chill music, but little else.