I received a very nice surprise in the post the other day in the form of a new EP from Final Fantasy, aka Owen Pallett. If you don't already know he is an extraordinarily talented violinist and the composer behind the arrangements of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire and Alex Turner side-project Last Of The Shadow Puppets.
'Plays To Please' is a actually collection of songs by Alex Lukashevsky and Deep Dark United which Pallett has arranged the music for and somewhat notably performed alongside fellow violinist Andrew Bird.
From the opener Horsetail Feathers the listener might be forgiven for thinking they had accidentally begun listening to a somewhat snazzy Broadway musical rather than an indie record, which if anything is a credit to the sheer range of ability on display here.
On comes the foreboding tones of Ultimatum and even more musicianship than you can shake your dusty guitar at. This time it's backed up with lyrical delights such as describing some very naughty acts, " You'll want them till I tap your tits, he's gonna caution your clits...". With Owen's almost polite vocal delivery you might even be able to play this without incident with your grandparents in the same room.
Moodring Band lulls and croons softly at the heart of the tracklist before I Saved A Junky Once suddenly tears us away to a much different place with its harsh stabbing piano notes. It's another return to a scene in a musical but now set in a much darker story it would seem.
Dark humour is applied thickly within Nun Or A Bawd, jauntily proclaiming "Gonna get me a girlfriend, gonna do whatever she says". It's the subtle lyrical turns here again amongst the musicianship that make this a highlight.
Crush - Love - Crush is the troubled monologue of someone fighting with their feelings of self doubt, uncertain of feeling anything with any conviction anymore. Everything comes into full force with lush composition that should have you hanging onto every note, finally breaking apart with Pallett repeating "Crush, Love, Crush" until his voice is barely audible. It does ultimately steal the show before the final curtain.
'Plays To Please' and another Final Fantasy EP 'Spectrum 14th Century' are both out now via Blocks Recording Club and both will be very limited so be quick if you want to get a copy.