Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: The Lovely Feathers - Fantasy of the Lot (* * * 1/2)

After a three-year absence, Canadian indie-popsters The Lovely Feathers are back with a new record, their sophomore effort entitled Fantasy of the Lot, released earlier this week. Apparently, the album comes after the band declared an "indefinite hiatus" following the touring for the release of their 2006 debut, Hind Hind Legs, which managed to attract a decent amount of attention around the blogosphere. After exploring varying personal and professional detours, the members returned to record this follow-up; a quirky pop-rock album that's irreverent, fun, and quite unique despite the obvious influences (Unicorns, Arcade Fire) heard throughout. A late submission to what I might label as the "indie lover's summer albums list," but a welcome one anyway.

If you've heard anything from The Lovely Feathers chances are it includes Fantasy of the Lot's lead single and opening track "Lowiza," the story of the titular female character and her inept lover, Jimmy. It's more than a little bizarre, but with tight instrumental execution and a group-chanted chorus to compliment singer Mark Kupfert's slightly unstable tenor vocals, this tale of sexual inadequacy is among the record's highlights. The remainder of the album follows a similar pattern in that the songs generally remain short, the pace stays upbeat but not frenzied or hurried, and the lyrics are mostly snapshots of oddball characters in strange situations. The first half of the record has the majority of the highlights, like the folky jam "Fad," the key-heavy groove of the chorus on "Gifted Donald," and the almost Brit-pop-esque "Finders Fee." The group also dive into a couple less immediate tunes with the somewhat aimless title track and the constantly shifting "Loading Dock," but they're at their best when they keep things simple and (relatively) direct.

Fantasy of the Lot doesn't seem to head determinedly in any particular direction, which may keep it from making as much of an impact in such a strong musical year as 2009, but there's a lot of genuine charm and subtle pop hooks packed into the music here. The Lovely Feathers sound like the kind of band that could really make their mark in future years, but if you have the fortune of getting to know them now, you may very well enjoy hearing them work their way there.