Owen Pallett Owen PallettA Swedish Love Story EP
DOMINO (RUG378T, 10”) Owen Pallett got a symphony orchestra for Christmas. He put his new toy to wondrous work and released the stunningly verbose “ Heartland” in January. Spring and summer have come and gone and Pallett has decided that the box his present came in is pretty good fun to play with too.
“A Swedish Love Story EP” was recorded over one week in New York City, using little more than a violin and Pallett's soaring imagination.. Accordingly it's closer in sound and sentiment to his first album, “ Has A Good Home”. Pallett makes no bones about his return to (comparative) simplicity. Explaining in the first line of the opening track, “ A Man With No Ankles”: “Somewhere between my window and the doorstep I remembered what it was to play.” Not that an Owen Pallett track can ever be classed as simple. This is a record of multiphonic loops, swirling counterpointed melodies and complex rhythms. Simple, then, for a virtuoso. Simple for the son of a church organist who's been composing since he was a teenager, playing violin since he was a toddler and immersed in classical music since he was born.
But classicism is not the only influence at work here. Owen Pallett loves pop. He orchestrates the Pet Shop Boys. He cites Mariah Carey as the most significant musician of the last 10 years. He covers Lykke Li and duets with Jens Lekmann. And he labels “A Swedish Love Story” as “a love-letter to the Swedish pop-stars who inspired it.” In particular, “ Scandal at The Parkade” is a pop song at its finest: buoyed by swelling emotion and anchored by propulsive plucked strings. Pallett is often compared to fellow classical experimentalist Joanna Newsom. Whilst Newsom's work is informed by mythology and fairy-tales, Pallett's is rooted in fantasy games and pop culture. He's the Scott Walker to her Vashti Bunyan.
Despite his patent celebration of pop, Pallett warns “This is probably the most positive record I'll ever make, enjoy the mood while it lasts.” Accordingly, the record closes with the wonderfully bitter-sweet "Don't Stop". Here the strings slide in and out of key and time, while Pallett quips: “I don't want to hear you brag about your Swedish life.” Yet moments later a lo-fi 4/4 drum machine kicks in and the final line repeats: “Don't stop on my account.” " A Swedish Love Story" is a collection of beautifully executed, sophisticated pop songs. It's obvious however that this is more a playful nod to his past than a roadmap to his future. Like fellow maestro Scott Walker, he's not afraid to push the boundaries and veer away off-piste: but it’s not likely to be downhill from here.
Owen Pallett- A Man With No Ankles