8/10 Mike Staff review, 20 December 2012
Here’s a pretty weird album, the latest effort from prolific Torontonian oddball Slim Twig and easily his most ambitious to date. He’s enlisted the help of various friends, notably including Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallett arranging the strings and wife Meg “U.S. Girls” Remy piping in with backing vocals on a few tracks.
The general mood here is one of chaotic, dense baroque-ish psych-pop splattered with an array of instruments including harpsichord, mellotron, saxophone, cello, piano, organ, recorder and of course the aforementioned string quartet. Phil says the first track, his favourite on the album, is “mindblowingly good” and one of the best things he’s heard all year. I’m struggling to make my mind up about the record after my first couple of listens, though.
It’s really quite bewilderingly busy in a way which can seem quite unfocused and scattershot, plus Twig seems to have three or four different singing voices which he uses at various times just to make things more confusing. A sticker on the sleeve says it’s “a narrative album inspired by Nabokov’s Lolita by way of Histoire de Melody Nelson, but I’d say I can hear as much Cardiacs and Scott Walker in here as I can Gainsbourg, it’s really demented in places!
It’s always interesting hearing something this weird that so much effort has gone into, though, and while in some ways it’s a bit of a sprawling mess, there are real moments of greatness if you pay enough attention, and frankly it’s weird enough to be worth a listen just because it doesn’t sound much like anything else! After two listens it’s hard to tell if it’s a masterpiece or a mess, but my gut tells me it’s both. “A messterpiece,” quips Phil.
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