Mister Heavenly – Out Of Love (Sub Pop)

I admit the pre-release publicity reeled me in on this one. The good folks at Sub Pop claimed that this trio of indie rockers had developed a new musical style called “doom wop” that would incorporate elements of 50s doo-wop groups like The Penguins and The Five Satins. I love doo-wop and was intrigued to find out how these guys would rework it into a modern context.

Well, despite the fact that one of the songs is titled Doom Wop, they didn’t really do what they claimed to. But that’s alright; the result is still a very appealing mix of musical styles that sounds fresh and exciting.

Mister Heavenly consists of three notable indie rockers…Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) from Man Man, Nicholas Thorburn of Islands and Joe Plummer who drums for Modest Mouse and The Shins.

Interestingly, the album opens with a rather gripping song about a serial killer called Bronx Sniper. It begins with gently strummed guitar but then explodes musically and lyrically…”Who knows when the gunshots are coming from, those who have been picked off aren’t saying much”. It’s something of a three and a half minute mini-opera.

With that out of their system, the songs settle into more conventional topics. I Am A Hologram does have a 50s vibe to it, but its not exactly doo-wop, more like something found on the soundtrack to Grease. One of the most attractive parts of the song, and the band in general, is the mixture of Honus’ gruff raspy voice and Nicholas’ sweet, pure pop delivery. It’s used to full effectiveness here.

Charlyne throws some surf guitar into the mix, a bit of playful piano and a touch of doo-wop in the vocals. And that’s the way it goes throughout the album’s 12 tracks. They even give a reggae treatment to the record’s longest track, Reggae Pie. The song Doom Wop features some relatively heavy guitar riffage and vocals that recall Marc Bolan of T-Rex.

The most overtly-50s-ish track is the last. Wise Men is a slightly-skewed piano-driven tune with layered vocals.

Overall, I found Out Of Love to hold my interest over the course of its 12 tracks. The three musicians seem intent on taking random elements of pop and rock and reassembling them in previously unheard ways. They manage to pull it off while still remaining true to their songs.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to I Am A Hologram from Out Of Love