If Heartland doesn’t become Pallett’s breakthrough album, record-buyers are wrong. Pallett’s sophomore effort has so many things going for it — Pallett’s not calling himself Final Fantasy anymore, for one thing (he’s getting big enough to worry about copyright infringement), and Heartland’s got a slightly less imaginative but infinitely less stupid title than FF debut He Poos Clouds.
Pallett himself, though, is still embarrassingly geeky and cloud-shitting crazy. Supposedly a concept album about a space farmer (or something) named Lewis who confronts his creator with accusations such as “the stony hiss of cockatrice has cast us into serfdom,” Heartland contains a song called “Tryst With Mephistopheles” and another called “Oh Heartland, Up Yours.” It’s prog rock without the rock, classically composed symphonic pop (or something like that) that combines elements of traditional and contemporary classical music with lush, theatrical vocals, subtle electronic embellishments, and strikingly inventive percussion. The real brilliance of Pallett’s songcraft though, is most evident in the amazing lack of pretension (precociousness is different, of course) he needs to pull it all off. Heartland is remarkably cohesive and ornate without sounding overwrought, and the bar’s already been set high for 2010. — Jeremy Martin