Owen Pallett made his name in the Toronto music scene doing string arrangements for bands like The Arcade Fire, but as Final Fantasy his music has never quite had the pomp and earnestness of that brand of indie. On his first album “Has A Good Home” he made good use of looping pedals, and established a style all his own: string arrangements more classical than rock or folk, despite generally having the song and melody structures of indie, and the pieces themselves combining passion and utter silliness in a bewildering fashion. A recent interview in Toronto’s NOW Magazine cleared things up a little for me: “As far as whether the music I make is gay or queer, yeah, it comes from the fact that I’m gay, but that doesn’t mean I’m making music about it.” Positioning these works in a queer perspective, in the company of contemporary artists like Matmos and Antony, somehow makes these seemingly awkward lyrics and weird juxtapositions click into place.
In any case, album #2 takes off where first left off, but this time round the sound pallet (geddit?) is broadened to take in piano and harpsichord, and the arrangements are even more skillful, to say the least, taking cues from the entire history of classical music, baroque to 20th century. There are some utterly beguiling pieces on this record, such as “If I Were A Carp”, which combines looped, reverbed percussive textures with the trademark strings. And “Song Song Song” is perfect pop from a dimension where Sir William Walton and Percy Grainger are megastars. This album has everything a fan of the first could want — including all the silliness (what’s that album title again?), with themes drawn from epic fantasy and role-playing games, and lyrics at once ridiculous and profound:
Now his massive genitals refuse to co-operate
And no amount of therapy can hope to save his marriage
A heady mix for sure, and to these ears hugely successful.