Album review: Mister Heavenly – Out of Love (Sub Pop)

Mister Heavenly 12 (2011)

Mister Heavenly’s debut album, Out of Love Is packed with violent imagery and musical nods to the classic doo-wop era.

This record sounds as though it could have sprung forth fully formed from filmmaker David Lynch’s imagination. On the swooning “Your Girl,” the indie rockers deliver lines like “You got a gash, let’s get that sewn” atop a slow-dancing 1950s groove, while the twinkling “Hold My Hand” opens as a sincere love song (“I’ll stroke your hair/Put your head on my shoulder”) before taking a significantly darker turn (“Don’t try to leave/Feral dogs have us surrounded”).

The band, which gained a bit of notoriety late in 2010 by inviting actor Michael Cera to tag along as a touring bassist, brings together frontmen Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner (Man Man) and Nicholas Thorburn (The Unicorns, Islands) along with Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer. The crew’s musical output is every bit as crazy and unpredictable as its combined DNA suggests. There are definite strains of Modest Mouse in the chunky guitar march of opener “Bronx Sniper.” “Reggae Pie,” by contrast, flirts with dub, the hypnotic groove pulsating as though it were emanating from a private cabana on some tropical isle—and dig that not-so-subtle nod to Soul II Soul’s  “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me).”

Elsewhere, the trio experiments with surf-rock on “Harm You,” a dreamy bit of ocean-pop with lyrics—“Close your eyes/Don’t turn around/I won’t harm you”—that would have most women digging in their purses for pepper spray. Equally twisted is “Charlyne,” a piano-pop nugget so undeniably jaunty that it nearly conceals the decaying heart at the tune’s core.

Like a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, oddities abound, from the woozy “Pineapple Girl,” which takes its inspiration from a relatively obscure event (the late 80s pen-pal relationship between 10-year-old Michigan resident Sarah York and Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega) to “Diddy Eyes,” a dreamy throwback whose nonsensical chorus (“She has diddy eyes, diddy eyes”) cuts against the more straightforward musical backdrop.

Indeed, there are times where it sounds as though this
joyously twisted effort took its inspiration from a single line
off the album-closing “Wise Men”: “I tried so hard to keep
my head on straight, but I’m cracking like a coconut anyway.”

Andy Downing

 

Band website and purchase information here

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