The Russian Futurists

Our Thickness

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Matthew Hart's third album as the Russian Futurists, Our Thickness offers more of his bedroom-recorded symphonic pop, albeit with a little more focus and polish than his earlier work had. Hart's way with pop melodies and intricate, largely electronic arrangements have drawn fairly accurate comparisons to Magnetic Fields, but the Russian Futurists' music is even more similar to the work of Rob Crow's Optiganally Yours project; both feature quirky yet oddly elegant arrangements and sweet, boyish vocals. Not that Hart's music is derivative -- after all, not too many songs feature swanky pianos and honking Canadian geese, but "Our Pen's Out of Ink" begins with both. The Russian Futurists' music is bigger and lusher than that of Hart's most easily recognizable influences; in fact, his productions and arrangements are so expansive and detailed that they tend to overwhelm his songs, at least on the first few listens. Hart's vocals are often buried under layers and layers of other sounds, which adds to Our Thickness' blurry, impressionistic feeling. It's an undeniably pretty sound, particularly on "Why You Gotta Do That Thing?" and "Sentiments vs. Syllables," but sometimes it makes Our Thickness a little distant to embrace initially. The slightly more down-to-earth tracks, such as "Paul Simon" and "Incandescent Hearts" are more immediate but still plenty atmospheric, suggesting a cuter, quirkier spin on the Postal Service's breezy indie electronica. There's also an AM pop quality to Hart's songs -- you can hear bits and pieces of forgotten '60s and '70s bubblegum pop hits in all of his songs, and especially on "Hurtin' 4 Certain" and "2 Dots on a Map," both of which sound utterly fresh and naggingly familiar at the same time. Homespun creativity has rarely sounded bigger -- or better -- than it does on Our Thickness.

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