The Best Low Priced Heartbreakers You Can Own

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What if Leonard Cohen had had the voice of Sigur Rós' Jónsi Birgisson? Patrick Zimmer (the man behind Finn) has that high-pitched whining voice that has become the Icelandic band's trademark, and he does write sweet-and-sour folk songs reminiscent of Cohen's. And that voice (often backed by another vocal take one octave below) is what grabs you at first. The songwriting comes next, followed by the concept. For this is a concept album, drama theater (Greek theater, perhaps) about love, loss, persistence, and despair. The story arc, the minor-key melodies, the tone of it all bring to mind Radiohead's OK Computer, though the music actually comes much closer to Sigur Rós at their quietest. Only one song features what would qualify as a pop/rock drum beat (the haunting "The Truth Is a Lie"); all the other songs are paired down to acoustic guitar and vocals, with an occasional kettle drum, cymbal roll, or trombone line, not to forget the strings. The album is said to have been recorded in the catacombs of a 14th century church; true or not, it has the right reverb to be plausible and, clearly, something was haunting Zimmer when he recorded tracks like "Truncheon Sound," "Dew," and "The Fourth, The Fifth," extremely poignant songs. "Julius Caesar" is another highlight. Sadly, this album lacks a bit of variety, to the point where some songs sound too much alike, like variations on a single theme. That is the only flaw to be found with The Best Low Priced Heartbreakers You Can Own, and rarely has an album had such an apt title. Beware though, Zimmer's voice is clearly a case of love it or hate it.

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