Under Review: Mister Heavenly – Out Of Love

It would appear that, the longer I wait for the indie supergroup trend to wear off, the more I like the amalgamated bands it produces. I had actually been highly anticipating hearing music from Mister Heavenly even before I knew the project’s name. Last year, Nick Thorburn of Islands and Ryan Kattner of Man Man announced that they’d begin making some music together. As Islands toured behind Vapours and Man Man put the finishing touches on Life Fantastic, their creative union sat apparently dormant. Several months ago, an inaugural single was released along with the promise of a full-length by the summer’s end. The two songs, “Mister Heavenly” and “Pineapple Girl,” confirmed my suspicions that Thorburn and Kattner’s combined forces would yield music that sounded like a collision of each singer’s own band. Backed by drummer Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins, Mister Heavenly’s Out Of Love is a surefooted debut that makes a rather unlikely pairing of songwriters work incredibly well.

When Thorburn originally announced his work with Kattner, he did so through the definition of a new genre of music: “Doom Wop.” Eye-of-the-storm menace is something that both Islands and Man Man feature prominently in their songs, and Mister Heavenly wastes no time in doing the same. Opening track “Bronx Sniper” is a muscular dirge with both singers delivering fatalistic verses describing the frenzy following a marksman’s strike. The bulk of Out Of Love isn’t so bleak, with straightforward love songs like Kattner’s “Charlyne” and Thorburn’s “Hold My Hand” proving that neither singer has lost his tender side when jumping into this venture. Both “Mister Heavenly” and “Pineapple Girl” appear here as well, the former shifting as each leader takes over, the second being the most Islands-sounding track in the set. The Man Man-ish moments are numerous, though they play a more subtle role and balance Thorburn’s wide-eyed pop with a hulking thump.

Out Of Love leaves room for a few genre experiments, though not all of these diversions serve to strengthen the album. At the set’s midpoint is “Reggae Pie,” a surprisingly adept pass at an atmospheric reggae sound. Later, though, comes “Doom Wop,” an atonal (and mercifully brief) demonstration of what the invented genre might actually sound like. Thankfully, Mister Heavenly went with a more accessible mode, allowing Kattner, Thorburn and Plummer to play off each other’s strengths as well as push one another’s limits. Not every song is revelatory, but Out Of Love shows what can happen when a few highly original (not to mention unconventional) performers come together to have some fun.

~ by E. on August 15, 2011.

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