The Mattoid

Hello

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Rock & roll history is littered with records that exist in a vacuum, albums so "outside" the realm of popular culture that they either elicit abject distaste or full-blown fanaticism. On Hello, the electrifying debut from Nashville-by-way-of-Finland's Ville Kiviniemi (aka the Mattoid), a knife is plunged into the belly of the rock & roll cosmos, resulting in a deluge of delicious foulness that somehow manages to unite the Velvet Underground, Laibach, Andrew W.K., and Elvis Presley into a single organism. Utilizing his own signature guitar style called "Sango" -- apparently so subtle and complex that it's inaudible to the human ear -- the Mattoid makes even the smallest rock sound like a mountain. "Shiny Woman," lent added weight by the bald, poncho-wearing artist's thick Scandinavian accent, is at its heart a simple love song, but when, midway through, a minute-long throat singing solo explodes over the VU backbeat, it becomes absolutely primal. "Rat Poison," a duet with longtime sidekick the Poppy Fields, treats the subject of love with supreme gothic reverence. Sung from the perspective of a woman whose repeated attempts at killing off her boyfriend (poison, gunshot, etc.) are thwarted by the victim's impenetrable devotion -- "But still he survived/no, he didn't die, because his love for me kept him alive" -- it ends with the two crooning, "When you are in love, you are strong," and the effect, despite the sheer irreverence of it all, is both chilling and inspirational. Love may lie at the heart of Hello, but what the Mattoid really wants to do is party. Whether it's the thunderous proclamation at the end of "Blue Suede Shoes" -- "I wish to see all the corners of the universe and be the dude who never has to die" -- or the infantile simplicity of "Party Time" -- "crap your craps and fu*k your fu*ks, it's party time!" -- he's as fearless and wild as he is innocent and naïve. In fact, that's what makes Hello so enticing: the Mattoid is so generous and sincere in both idea and execution that listeners are compelled to follow him into each and every absurdity with their lighters held high, daring anyone in their path to mock him.

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