One of indie music’s premier arrangers, Owen Pallett returns with an impressive album filled with heavy lyrical imagery; his signature violin now matched with synth lines indebted toViolator-era Depeche Mode.
The opening one-two punch of ‘I Am Not Afraid’ and ‘In Conflict’ gives an overview of his life manifesto, and through strings, piano, industrial samples and woozy synths, he shows the broad range of sounds that he’ll draw from. Towards the middle of the record, the songs become less memorable, relying too heavily on Pallett’s relatively weak voice, which makes connecting to these tracks initially difficult. Still, the arrangements continue to amaze.
The final three tracks are all highlights. ‘The Riverbed’ pits drums and violin against each other for a dramatic combination that recalls his past triumphs. ‘Infernal Fantasy’ follows by showing what he can accomplish now, with a repetitive rising and falling synth line pushing the song until its climax. ‘Soldiers Rock’ closes proceedings with a sparse, ominous ode to fratricide.
In Conflict is yet another Owen Pallett album that impresses at every turn, creating new career highs while hinting at ways he can push his sound even further – a giddying thought indeed.