Owen Pallett “Heartland”

Domino Records

I’m not sure why I have taken so long to write anything about this record. I have listened to it way more than any other album that has come out in 2010 thus far–WAY more. In fact, I don’t think I have listened to an album all the way through as many times as “Heartland” in a very long time.

As far as why this has become fact, there are several reasons. First and foremost, in this age where most music listeners can’t seem to pay attention to an artist for more than one song, and most music composers can’t seem to conjure up more than two or three great ones, Owen Pallett had the balls and the sheer talent to create a thoroughly realized 12-song cycle for the ages. Secondly, 2010 is already starting to seem uninspiring–cover albums from Peter Gabriel and the Supergrass guys suggest idle spirits, and including covers on albums of mostly original material is starting to become common practice again. Granted, it’s not necessarily bad to put a cover song on your album, but when it’s the only memorable thing about the record, that’s trouble. “Heartland” is that defiant cackle in the face of the mediocrity and lazy, color-by-numbers bullshit that too often passes for acceptable listening out there in the world.

Let’s focus for a second on how listenable the album is. We don’t see that very often these days. After all, this is the age of I-Tunes and buying on a song-by-song basis. I have never really subscribed to this whole way of thinking, however. I have always preferred listening to records as a whole–it’s a much more rewarding experience, I guess because it feels like there was way more love put into the project. “Heartland” is already becoming one of those records which, as soon as it comes on, I feel like I am somewhere else–where exactly, I do not know, but I know I go to that same place every time “Midnight Directives” comes on. It’s a strange little pop song that acts as the perfect intro to a record of glorious orchestral beauty shrouded in dissonance and other moments of discomfort and weirdness. In the chorus, where Pallett sings “Left my daughter, then wife”, I am always left wondering exactly what this phrase is supposed to mean. It is worded so simply yet in a way that leaves it open to interpretation.

Much of this ambiguity transfers to other aspects of the album as well. The orchestral arrangements (by Pallett, played by the Czech Philharmonic) boast all sorts of diminished lines that could be the soundtrack to whatever goes on in the dark recesses of our cerebral cavities.

Though “Heartland” is a concept album that supposedly follows a very clear story line, I am not going to pretend that I know what that is. I have attempted to research it somewhat, but the most info I have gotten comes from fledgling reviews like this one (which, incidentally, were all raves). So, I can’t really discern how accurate it all is. I know that it has something to do with a very violent farmer named Lewis, who is “created” by Pallett before they engage in a relationship. The album is then supposed to follow their relationship from beginning to end. If I could tell Pallett one thing, it would be this: “Whatever, dude.” I would then thank him for making such a kickass fucking record in a time when they are way too hard to come by.

It’s still really early in the year, but I am confident “Heartland” will be in my top 3 albums of 2010. I am actually fairly certain it will be number one. Maybe that statement is pretty premature, but considering the fact that I already like this album better than my albums of the year for 2009 and 2008, I would say it feels right at this juncture.

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One Response to “Owen Pallett “Heartland””

  1. Owen Pallett “Heartland” « The Dead Girls Project Says:

    […] I’m not sure why I have taken so long to write anything about this record. I have listened to it way more than any other album that has come out in 2010 thus far–WAY more. In fact, I don’t think I have listened to an album all the way through as many times as “Heartland” in a very long time. Read rest of entry […]

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