Ok, check it: if you heard that the guy who played in, toured
with, or wrote string arrangements for such noteworthy Canadian
acts as the Arcade Fire, Picastro, the Hidden
Cameras and Les Mouches was now pursuing a solo project
consisting only of his voice, his violin, and a looping pedal,
would you believe me? Would you be excited? Well, you should be.
Chances are good that you've never heard anything quite like this
before. And what exactly does mastermind troubadour Owen Pallett
call his new project? Final Fantasy. As in the video games?
Yes, the video games. Why? Because, as his website says, "[they]
are the most amazing combination of melodrama, swords, capitalism,
and Japan the world has ever seen. It's the perfect moniker for
one to stretch out beneath the umbrella of faggy pretentiousness."
Whether or not you give a shit about the video games (or, like
me, don't even know what they are), Final Fantasy is a musical
force to be reckoned with. Pallett's dizzying violin melodies
are sometimes accompanied by other instruments on the album
- a scenario which, with the exception of drums, never happens
in a live set - but even then, they serve no more than a complementary
purpose. The only thing perhaps more prominent or magnificent
than his lilting strings is his honey-smooth voice, which can
maintain a hypnotic homogeneity or take heart-stopping leaps
into higher octaves.
It's not just how he sings, but what he sings, that makes the
vocals so fascinating. The songs vary from confessional to fantastical,
but in all of it there is an underlying sense of humor and warmth,
even when the subject matter is something as grave as death
(pun intended). Personal favorites include: "This is the
Dream of Win and Regime", "The CN Tower Belongs to
the Dead", "Please Please Please", and "Learn
To Keep Your Mouth Shut, Owen Pallett" (a song which is
sung with an ethereal female vocalist, as if the angel on his
shoulder were singing her rebukes into his ear). Having said
that, there isn't a weak spot on the entire album; every song
is an exquisite gem, and bears listening to on repeat. And for
you vinyl hounds out there, take note: Final Fantasy is releasing
two 7" records on June 25th. And if "Has a Good Home"
is any indication, they are going to be fantastic.
1. None Of You Will Ever See A Penny
2. This Is the Dream of Win and Regime
3. Your Light Is Spent
5. The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead
6. Took You Two Years To Win My Heart
7. The Chronicles of Sarnia
11. That's When the Audience Died
12. Learn To Keep Your Mouth Shut Owen Pallett
13. An Arrow In the Side of Final Fantasy
14. Please Please Please
15. Better Than Worse
16. The Sea
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