Saturday, September 23, 2006

Final Fantasy--He Poos Clouds (2006)

Artist-Final Fantasy
Album-He Poos Clouds
Release Date-Jun 13, 2006
Genre/Style-Indie Rock

Personal Rating-Recommended!

Biography-by James Christopher Monger Canadian violinist/singer/songwriter Owen Pallett has been a member of the groups Les Mouches and Picastro, as well as a touring member of the Hidden Cameras and Arcade Fire. Final Fantasy, essentially a one-man solo project with occasional help from drummer/engineer Leon Taheny, released its first full recording, Has a Good Home, in 2005 on the small Toronto-based cooperative label Club Blocks. It was followed in 2006 by He Poos Clouds on the Tomlab label.

Review-by James Christopher Monger Owen Pallett, the man behind the curtain of Toronto's aptly named Final Fantasy, describes He Poos Clouds as "an eight-song cycle about the eight schools of magic in Dungeons & Dragons." Deception (when used correctly) is one of the oldest and truest art forms, and Pallett should get an award for not producing either a wimpy and ironic whine-fest that utilizes childhood fantasies to dispel adult social anxieties or a sardonic lo-fi power metal record that pays "tribute" to the sword-wielding epics of Iron Maiden and Dio. Instead, the one-man classically trained Canadian string section — think Andrew Bird and Patrick Wolf — has created a gem of a baroque pop record that manages to appeal to both the bespectacled hipster and the disgruntled orchestra student. Employing a measured croon caught somewhere between Scott Walker and Louis Philippe with a soft Donovan-esque vibrato, Pallett assumes the position of narrator on the opening track, an ornate snapshot of youthful longing that manages to balance lyrics like "she has a heart that will never melt" and "but the quarry don't share his taste for Anne McCaffery" with equal parts heartbreak and bravado — he shares more than a little in common, both musically and lyrically, with the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. Alternately dissonant and willfully melodic, each track that follows carries with it the possibility of either a crushing sigh of defeat ("I'm Afraid of Japan") or a violent outburst of passion (the one-two punch of the lilting and rhythmic "Song Song Song" and ultra-dramatic/dynamic "Many Lives 49 MP"), making He Pools Clouds far more dangerous than it is cloying and pretentious, despite all of its intentions otherwise.


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