It’s been four years since Owen Pallett exchanged his Final Fantasy moniker for his own name. In the time between, the singer/songwriter/violinist has pursued a handful of endeavors, musical and otherwise. He joined the Arcade Fire lineup; he wrote exhaustively on Top 40 music theory; he was nominated for an Oscar. Yet what informs much of In Conflict, at least at the start, is Pallett’s quest inward. Pallett’s records have always been dazzling affairs. See him live, and you’ll be further wowed, his jockeying of violin, vocals, and live looping pedals closest akin to an above-average street juggler. While Conflict finds Pallett scaling back the technical wizardry ever so slightly, it’s the lyrical content that makes for the real shift. Lead single “The Riverbed” is a chugging, aggressive jumping-off point. “On the day that you find your thirties have left you childless / Remember when you meet your coupled friends with unease,” Pallett bellows, cutting to the core of just one of Conflict’s highly personal themes. Later, “Infernal Fantasy” finds the singer bouncing between falsetto and baritone, wrestling with his own sexual need: “I know no satisfaction only know desire,” he lilts. On “The Passions” he offers up the line “You hooked your pinkies on my jeans / I’m 28, and you’re 19.” These brazen mirror moments pop up throughout Conflict, often intermingling with the fantastic images that mark much of Pallett’s songbook and ultimately making for an album that is more resonating and thought-provoking than anything the singer has done to date. Owen Pallett opens for (and plays with) Arcade Fire at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Monday, August 4. For tickets and info, call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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