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The Weight's on the Wheels trails its predecessor by well over five years, but impressively, little has changed about the music of the Russian Futurists -- still, at least on record, the one-man indie pop operation of Torontonian Matthew Adam Hart -- in all that time. Indeed, little has changed over the whole course of Hart's decade-long, four-album career, save for a slow, gradual increase in fidelity and sonic clarity, a trend which continues here -- it's the first Russian Futurists album to feature an outside producer -- perhaps (though probably not) to the point that he'll finally be able to shake the knee-jerk "bedroom pop" tag. Certainly, "Hoeing Weeds, Sowing Seeds," which bounds out of the gate as if to signal an especially eager and joyous return, is the shiniest, punchiest-sounding thing Hart's ever unleashed: a thumping, club-ready electro-pop ditty with an instantly hummable melody; a fitting successor to the last album's euphoric calling card, "Paul Simon." Sadly, though, it's not all that representative. Only "Tripping Horses" tries for danceability in a similarly electronic vein, with decidedly more middling success, and while Hart's penchant for hip-hop-inflected beats is well-indulged throughout -- most blatantly with the new jack swing of "100 Shopping Days 'Til Christmas," an uneasy seasonal relationship dissection featuring some uncharacteristically hip bass playing -- nothing strays far from his comfort zone of scrappy, wheezing synths and low-rent symphonics, oddly poised between chintziness and grandeur. Even with a bit of extra polish, there's no hiding the quirkiness of his highly detailed musical confections; indeed, it's all the more evident that the Futurists' distinctive insularity has always stemmed not just from lo-fi production, but also from Hart's general idiosyncrasy as an arranger and a songwriter. And the songs on Weight are just as knotty (and nerdy) as ever, full of tongue-twisting, dense wordplay, cleverly inverted cliches, internal rhymes, the occasional neologism ("MelanJolly"?) -- so thick with words, actually, that Hart sometimes resorts to overlapping his own multi-tracked vocals to avoid cutting off phrases by pausing for breath (there's also an actual duet, with the Heavy Blinkers' Ruth Minnikin -- the starry-eyed "One Night, One Kiss" -- which serves the same function). Still, with a few exceptions -- "Horseshoe Fortune" for one, a sweet, upbeat closer with a chiming, folk-ish vibe and an odd but laudable message (be thankful for surgery, basically) -- most of these songs are not quite up to Hart's usual caliber. His inherent charms are hard to deny; they just feel slightly threadbare this time out.
|Label:||Upper Class Rec|
Performance CreditsRussian Futurists Primary Artist
Michael Musmanno Bass Guitar
Ruth Minnikin Vocals
Matthew Adam Hart Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Shawn Ostapchuk Guitar,Mandolin,Bass Guitar
Bill Halliday Castanets
Paul Prince Bass Guitar
Gareth Jones Acoustic Guitar
Johanna Maloney Vocals
Technical CreditsMichael Musmanno Programming,Producer
Matthew Adam Hart Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
Henry Thomas Alken Cover Art