Owen Pallett - A Swedish Love Story

An irresistible combination of typically Canadian quirky alt-pop and quintessentially English pastoral pop.

Rating:

You may recognise Owen Pallett’s name - he’s the man behind those gorgeous string arrangements on all three Arcade Fire albums. So you might think that you know what to expect from his latest EP, ‘A Swedish Love Story’. And to be honest, you’d probably be right.

Despite its name, ‘A Swedish Love Story’ is an irresistible combination of typically Canadian quirky alt-pop and quintessentially English pastoral pop, all based around his trademark sophisticated string arrangements. The opening track, ‘A Man With No Ankles’ is gently upbeat and ambient, reminiscent of early Guillemots or China Crisis, while the frantic violins on ‘Scandal At The Parkade’ bring with them a sense of controlled urgency. Now Owen’s vocals really stand out; with barely any percussion driving the track, his voice carries the whole song - something that he manages with ease, thanks to the strength of his melodies, which are consistently intelligent and unpredictable.

The pace is slowed down by the EP’s third track, the indecisive ‘Honour The Dead Or Else’, which seems to be slightly unsure of what purpose it’s supposed to be serving, but then the final track ‘Don’t Stop’ rounds things off nicely with its blissful strings and soft vocals.

If you’re after a near-perfect example of how to do quirky pop properly, ‘A Swedish Love Story’ is probably just about as close as you’ll get. Combining traditional instruments like violins and piano with synths and electronic beats, it is effortlessly timeless yet also instinctively progressive. It’s almost as though Owen Pallett has taken all the best bits of his recent album ‘Heartland’ and mashed them all together into four tracks. Seems to have done the job though.

More like this