Out of Love
Music writers are always desperate for a good hook, and this one came on a silver platter: Mister Heavenly consists of Islands frontman Nick Thorburn, Man Man leader Ryan Kattner, and Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer. They play a style of music they've deemed "doom wop," which is also the title of a track on their debut album, Out of Love. There's another song called "Reggae Pie." And also "Pineapple Girl," to give you an idea what we're dealing with here.
Separately, the three players have tinkered with indie rock eccentricity for the better part of a decade, by way of Islands' hodgepodge of quirky hooks and half-jokes, Man Man's demented circus music, and Modest Mouse's heirloom strain of ruckus. Add to that cagey press interviews as Mister Heavenly and tapping Michael Cera to play bass on their tour last winter, and Out of Love seemed destined to be a hare-brained caricature of their already loony anchor bands. Who would've thought that together they would restrain and self-edit impulses to make this thing work, quite well actually, without losing the bombast and color they've each become known for.
The darkened doo-wop thing makes perfect sense when you hear it. There are snappy, Platters-esque melodies, swinging drums and volleying vocals between Thorburn's pinched-nose tenor and Kattner's burly, ringmaster intonation. They hint at surf-rock at times, and crooned 50s balladry at others, with enough heavy bass throughout to add a sense of foreboding. But then that too is offset, with lines like, "I've tried so hard to keep my head on straight, but I'm cracking like a coconut." You can't say "coconut" and be taken 100 percent seriously, after all, no matter how many times the word "doom" appears in your press release.
Photo Jacqueline Di Milia