The Russian Futurists The Russian FuturistsThe Weight?s On The Wheels
Listening to the latest album from The Russian Futurists is like meeting up with an old friend whom you haven’t seen for a long time. First you greet each other euphorically, yet cautiously, without knowing how hard to hug each other. Little by little, you start to notice what the other person has changed. A difference in their haircut or a slightly different modulation when they speak gives it away. Still trying to believe your eyes, you start to catch up with each other’s lives. “What ever happened to Matthew Adam Hart?” some people will wonder. Well, to start with, something more profitable than what those of us who saw a definitive farewell in his 2006 “Me, Myself and Rye” feared. Not at all. That was just a little “see you later,” and today, five years on, Hart is back, and ready to make it clear that he is still the same old guy we used to know. A solitary aesthete who has been compared—perhaps too much—to Stephin Merritt; one cannot deny that he shares with him not only the basis of his style, but also a perpetually sad, unfriendly, mean-looking expression on his face. They must both feel very lonely for this reason. But that’s where their art comes from, ladies and gentlemen. To find out whether we can please Hart again, this album, put out when nobody was expecting it anymore, is his big bet. I mean, if we manage to let him know that we are still out here listening to him, he will feel less deserted.
The thing is that right now, when you practically don’t have any time for anything, it’s hard to decide whether it’s the moment for his The Russian Futurists to just show up again like that, without any warning. The formerly one-of-a-kind figure of pop with gadgets, who stood out round about 2004, can now be placed effortlessly in the first spot that we come across, with all of the pomp that goes along with the expression “bedroom producer” today. According to the new rules of the game, friends of his should be crawling out of the woodwork. He is up to the job, and is going to find friends not only in listeners, but—decisively, as far as situating this album goes—in other artists. For example, it is impossible not to think about how well he would get on with the Swedish The Tough Alliance when you listen to “Golden Years”, and with the whole Sincerely Yours label. Equally accustomed to harsh climates, in the Canadian’s fourth album there are various songs that give warmth. Hart, as protection to cover up the embarrassment of meeting again, goes in for the safest bet: he keeps doing more or less the same thing as always, that hyper-synthetic pop, with strict forms, without much more to it. There are new resources, like that hi-fi varnish that he uses now on production—and watch out, because the term “high fidelity” can have all the double meanings that you like.
Fraternities apart, it was obvious that our man from Ontario would come back with a brand-new repertoire. In such a synth year, we could have expected an electropop as effervescent, pumped up, and euphoric as what he offers us. It would be something like what the Silicon Teens were to the 80’s, more or less. “The Weight’s on the Wheels” is as sticky as his previous sweets. Even more so, and who said that was a bad thing? “If there was something to be repaired…” he says in the opening of “Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds”, it should be repaired from the beginning. This is Hart’s least opaque album, perhaps his most eclectic, and certainly his most impermeable. The one where he opens himself up to different solutions, even if it’s just the minimum ones necessary in order to get a little air. In “100 Shopping Days ‘Til Christmas”, one of the best sample buttons, his eternal obsession with hip hop flourishes—he says that he has thousands of songs composed during his adolescence that he will never release—yikes!—and in the very Magnetic Fields “One Night, One Kiss”, he does a fabulous duet with Ruth Minnikin from Heavy Blinkers. You should already imagine the rest: slippery mini-hits not suitable for people with shoulder trouble ( “Tripping Horses”), and the occasional cowardly short-cut that he could have improved upon ( “Plates”). He’s definitely still the same old guy he used to be. Don’t they say that old friends don’t usually change? Well, look. Not even in the future.
Cristian RodríguezThe Russian Futurists - Horseshoe Fortune