Country : Canada Label : Secret City Genres and styles : Chamber Pop / Indie Folk Year : 2020

Island

· by Rupert Bottenberg

Toronto’s award-winning articulator of elevated pop, Owen Pallett, returns after too long a wait (his preceding proper album, In Conflict, came out in 2014). With not one but two albums on the same day, in fact, to help make up for the delay. The score to the documentary Spaceship Earth (read our review here) was on everyone’s spring-release radar, but his own Island arrived to great, and happy, surprise.

The contents, to be sure, aren’t entirely unanticipated. The creative voice he established with 2006’s consequential He Poos Clouds, the pleasantly eccentric conflation of classical, folk, and pop, remains in place here. The album’s built out of a batch of songs Pallett put together on an acoustic guitar, and some don’t stray far from that, like the sun-dappled “Transformer”. The material made its way to Abbey Road studios and orchestral arrangements, however, so matters are scaled up for songs like the sweeping “In Darkness” and “A Bloody Morning”.

The stirring and memorable “Paragon of Order” reflects the most rewarding balance of the near and the wide on the record, nicely representative of Pallett’s capacity for clear expressions of both intimacy and grandeur, often in the same moment.

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