For You Bobbie-Soxers with an Attitude
Mister Heavenly: Out Of Love album review.
Mister Heavenly is what I call an indie rock supergroup. The quirky and charming threesome that make up the band are indie rock veterans Nick Thorburn (Islands/the Unicorns), Ryan Kattner (Man Man) and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse). Their touring bassist is Superbad actor Michael Cera.
The band’s debut album, Out Of Love, was born out of a fascination with ill-fated romance and a shared love of the 1950s’ R&B “doo-wop” genre. Out of these communal interests, Mister Heavenly has created its own state of mind — and the music archetype called “doom-wop.”
Band members Kattner and Plummer met in 2007 when Modest Mouse and Man Man began touring together. Kattner and Thorburn met in Philadelphia in the final days of the Unicorns, or possibly the early days of Islands, they’re not really sure; either way, they hit it off immediately.
The 12 tracks on the album are dark with a strange eccentric and addicting quality to them.
The opening track on the album, “Bronx Sniper,” intros in with the slow strum of guitar and the lyric, “In the Bronx when the guns go off, we like it.” The tempo of the song picks up with electric guitar, the crash of drums, cymbals and static electric sounding vocals. The vocal style is a bit similar to the Black Keys in their song “Next Girl,” from the album Brothers.
The title track, “Mister Heavenly,” has a surf-rock sound. The entire album rolls in waves of surf, pop, grunge and art-punk — fusing into doom-wop. It has a unique and addictive appeal that becomes more tangible with each listen.
Track 6 on the album, “Reggae Pie,” has an intro that reminded me of a slower beginning to the Doors’ “Alabama Song.” Once the vocals come in, however, the similarity ends — and a head-bobbing reggae beat lends to the song’s hypnotic quality.
There are a couple of tracks that evoke some specific images, like “Hold My Hand,” which conjures up visions of sock-hops, diners and two sweethearts sharing an ice cream soda. Then there’s the song “Your Girl,” that seems well-suited for any 1960s beach movie; Beach Blanket Bingo anyone?
Mister Heavenly takes sounds from the past and then spikes them with a current esoteric musical vision that brings them up to present-day speed. The ebb and flow of the album has just the right amount of splash.