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May 23, 2006

Filed under: music»artists»pallett

Has a Good Home, by Final Fantasy

I really, really wanted to like Has a Good Home, an album by Owen Pallett, who plays violin for the Arcade Fire and calls his solo work Final Fantasy (yes, after the games). He's a looping artist from an indie-pop background, which is (to my mind) much preferred to the jazz background of a lot of loopers. And he plays a fairly non-traditional instrument (violin) for that kind of music.

But I've had this CD for a couple of months now, and I just can't think that I would recommend it. I've got a notepad file here that I made one day while I was listening to it. Here are a few excerpts:

austere. a little empty. No real loops, other than vocal overdubs.

back to preciousness. interesting plucking technique. sounds almost like a slow banjo roll.

good imagery. a bit creepy. maybe this makes more sense to people in montreal.

slow. kinda unlistenable.

this song is a transition, basically. very strange. why?

It's a mixed bag, overall. There are a few songs that I really like, such as "This is the Dream of Win and Regine" and "Furniture," both of which feature percussion along with the studio-based loops of Pallett's violin playing. He's got an undeniable skill behind the mixing desk, and his playing is often very inventive. I also like some of his lyrics, such as the lines from "Your Light is Spent"

They say heartbreak is good for the skin
But all that it's helped is my drinking
Picking fights with myself and my friends and my friends
Threatening to do me in

I think the problem is that the preciousness and nonconformism gets out of hand too often. There are fifteen songs on the CD, but many of them are very short--barely even songs, really. It feels like Pallett was too lazy to develop them. And on the best songs here, there's always a glaring flaw that shouldn't have been hard to fix. For example, "Furniture" sounds great until 1:25, when the vocals go severely and unmistakeably off-key. I wince every time I hear it, and I can't think of any reason that it made it into the final version, except that Pallett just didn't care that it sounded terrible. His singing is likewise weaker than it needs to be, seemingly an affectation.

Which is fine, honestly. People are free to make pretentious and out of tune music all they want (I certainly do!), but I don't have to listen to it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.

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