Release Date: Nov 16, 2010
Record label: Upper Class
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
It’s been five years away for Matthew Adam Hart’s The Russian Futurists, now providing fans with its most polished, pop-infused album to date. Pulsating beats and danceable synths explode into listeners’ ears right from the beginning as Hart welcomes them to his fourth full-length with “Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds,” by far the best song on the album. “One Night, One Kiss” sees Hart team with former member of The Heavy Blinkers Ruth Minnikin to create a sweet, dreamy love song She & Him would melt over, and “Tripping Horses” is pure pop bliss.
Over the course of three albums, the Russian Futurists' Matthew Adam Hart established a specific and successful indie pop template. Virtually every song wedded woozy or bouncy maximalist synth lines to bashy, blown-out drumbeats. Within this bargain-store pomp, Hart would paradoxically bury his most painstaking and precise creations, his lyrics, which were filled with enough complex and internal rhymes to make Cole Porter proud.
There’s a by-now notorious chapter called “Great Rock and Roll Pauses” in Jennifer Egan’s recent and near-perfect novel A Visit From The Goon Squad that’s written in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. The narrative of those slides deal in part with a 13-year-old boy named Lincoln who is infatuated with pauses in classic rock songs. He loops these pauses so that they last minutes, and ultimately dissects the nature of these breaks in popular song in conversations with his family.
The Weight's on the Wheels trails its predecessor by well over five years, but impressively, little has changed about the music of the Russian Futurists -- still, at least on record, the one-man indie pop operation of Torontonian Matthew Adam Hart -- in all that time. Indeed, little has changed over the whole course of Hart's decade-long, four-album career, save for a slow, gradual increase in fidelity and sonic clarity, a trend which continues here -- it's the first Russian Futurists album to feature an outside producer -- perhaps (though probably not) to the point that he'll finally be able to shake the knee-jerk "bedroom pop" tag. Certainly, "Hoeing Weeds, Sowing Seeds," which bounds out of the gate as if to signal an especially eager and joyous return, is the shiniest, punchiest-sounding thing Hart's ever unleashed: a thumping, club-ready electro-pop ditty with an instantly hummable melody; a fitting successor to the last album's euphoric calling card, "Paul Simon.
Over the last ten years Matthew Hart & co. have done a stoic job of packaging their lo-fi, synth-pop, producing three albums and a smattering of tasty singles. It’s an unmistakable sound that has translated into populist success for others in recent years, most notably in the meteoric rise and fall of MGMT in the public eye. And now, post Time to Pretend and five years on, they’re back with a new record, begging questions and lots of them, most importantly: what’s different? First impressions of The Weight's on the Wheels are pretty transparent.
Russian Futurist Matthew Hart kicks off his fourth album with Hoeing Weeds -Sowing Seeds, an insistently catchy dance-floor hit that makes a beeline for the mainstream. It's a strong start, and he reaches equally high points throughout the record. However, it's not devoid of misfires, like the slow-jam duet One Night, One Kiss. It's performed too ear-nest-ly to be a parody of those odes to picking up at the club that are more popular as ringtones than as records.
Matthew Adam Hart (a.k.a. the Russian Futurists) first caught my attention with his playful remix of Stars’s “First Five Times,” a catchy tune from their excellent Set Yourself on Fire. One of the cool things about the edit was the way that Hart made the song both meaner and cuter, embellishing it with fuzzy synth tones and muscular guitar riffs, which, given the original song’s ambivalent recounting of a love affair built on a foundation of drunken hookups, was pretty fitting.