At the very least, Oh! Pears win the prize for best use of a mid-sentence exclamation mark since Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Aside from that, they share nothing with those Canadian naysayers, making delicate and whimsical chamber pop based around the crafty songwriting of Corey Duncan. On 'Wild Part of the World', he mixes contemporary folk pop with modern twists on ye olden times, taking on thirteenth century traditional in "Natasha", and adapting a Tchaikovsky symphony in his own style. Neutral Milk Hotel meets BBC Radio 3, and they have a good time together.
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Corey Duncan may have chosen one of the clunkiest recording names in the history of exclamation mark rock -- it’s worse than Los Campesinos! and probably isn’t going to reach the iconic heights of Godspeed You! Black Emperor -- but his music as Oh! Pears never stutters. ‘Wild Part of the World’ shows Duncan to be a student of ornate indie rock that aspires to be as proficiently arranged as classical music (hint: we casually and incorrectly call it baroque pop), echoing the gorgeous orchestration of Grizzly Bear and Beirut, but with the purposeful rawness of acts like Pale Young Gentlemen and Richard Dawson. It is quite a juxtaposition, this music, in that it takes delicate indie traditionalism and puts it bluntly.
The production of ‘Wild Part of the World’ is such that the drums are heard straight from the recording studio, cut louder and more viciously than the rest of the record; it fits, though, with Duncan’s guitar playing toned brashly, so that each climax can retort its own nostalgic indie cuteness with the appropriate ugliness. Duncan’s voice booms but bawls, recalling Okkervil River’s Will Sheff in sounding like the yawn of a professor in the know. It’s also mastered to revoke the Grizzly Bear intricacies and point to their limitations: at the climax of “The Sounding of the Earth”, his voice dissolves from the mix and then returns in full as wiry strings close the walls in.
It’s kind of jarring to hear music like this being made in 2015, when its revolution happened about six years ago, but Duncan has the appropriate self-awareness, and a penchant for staples and tropes; he’s arranged a big band of players to complement his work with piano sprinkles, handclaps and brass aplenty, but he doesn’t busy himself perfecting each flourish, instead allowing these moments to float their way into the record. It’s nice to hear him go solo for closer “Tchaikovsky”, though, where his voice is fluctuating with real vulnerability, guarded by nothing but acoustic guitar. I doubt you’ve missed high-brow indie rock, but how about a compelling lead?
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