A Final Fantasy of pretty pop songs

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Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy finds ‘A Good Home’ at The Grad Club

One-man-band Owen Pallett performs this Tuesday at the Grad Club.
One-man-band Owen Pallett performs this Tuesday at the Grad Club.
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Photo courtesy of lisenrocks.com

“I’m happy to lose fans,” a frank Owen Pallett told the Journal by phone from his home in Toronto late Tuesday night.

The surprisingly unapologetic mastermind behind Final Fantasy—the singing violinist’s beautiful solo project—responded to whether he’s worried about disappointing fans of his first solo record, Has A Good Home, with the upcoming release of his sophomore album. Pallett readily admits that the bizarrely titled He Poos Clouds—out on May 9—marks a significant departure from Final Fantasy’s debut.

Prior to the release of Has A Good Home, Pallett was mostly known as Toronto and Montreal’s indie violinist to the stars, touring and recording with the likes of The Arcade Fire, Royal City, The Hidden Cameras and Jim Guthrie.

With Has A Good Home, however, Pallett distinguished himself as an artist worthy of attention in his own right. The record shows off Pallett’s heart-breakingly fragile voice and incredible knack for creating pretty pop songs with little more than his violin and a looping pedal.

But even though Has A Good Home is barely a year old, and Pallett is beginning to reach larger and larger audiences, he already appears ready to head off in a new direction.

And not only is he unfazed by any notions of a sophomore jinx, he said he’s quite prepared to lose a good chunk of the sizable fan base he’s built up over the past year.

“Well, considering that I wasn’t happy with Has A Good Home, if everybody looks at He Poos Clouds as a disappointment, then I’m going to be very happy,” he said.

“I listen to the new record and I think people who love Has A Good Home are just going to hate this album and then hate me,” he said. “It makes me feel great.”

Um ... what?

“I don’t care,” he said. “I’m pretty misanthropic. The things that I like don’t involve a whole bunch of people liking my record. I don’t own a car or a house; I don’t have bills to pay. If nobody buys my record, I’ll just go and make another one. I honestly don’t care.”

These can’t be the words of the man behind such inspiring love songs as “This is the Dream of Win and Regine”—written for the wedded Arcade Fire pair—can they?

He Poos Clouds is a different thing from Has a Good Home,” he said. “I wrote [Has A Good Home] specifically to sell to Vinyl Café [a weekly CBC Radio show hosted by Stuart McLean] audiences,” he said. “I wrote it quite conservatively.”

For anyone who only knows Pallett through Final Fantasy and is unaware of his work in bands like Les Mouches and Picastro, Has a Good Home probably seems anything but conservative: looping, violin-based, orchestral pop songs about gay sex and video games, and surreal, haunting, graveyard eulogies aren’t exactly dominating the airwaves these days.

“There’s no screaming on the record, but every Final Fantasy show I’d played up until [the recording of the album] had been mostly screaming,” he said. “And I’d never written pop songs before. All the songs I’d written up to that point had been pretty fucked up.”

True, Picastro and Les Mouches are known for crafting eccentric and slightly abstract artsy folk-pop, with a penchant for the experimental.

“With He Poos Clouds, I deliberately tried to take the whole romantic pop thing and make it preposterous,” he said.

So, He Poos Clouds is perhaps less of a departure for Pallett, and rather a return to his more “fucked up” songwriting roots.

Asked about next Tuesday’s show at The Grad Club, Pallett can barely contain himself as he gushes about the other bands he’s playing with.

He heaped considerably high praise on Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear: “They’re totally the best band,” he said.

“I went to see them when I was in New York City and it was the best show,” he added. “I mean, it was like, the best show. They’re incredible. When they release their new record, everybody is going to buy it and they’re going to be called geniuses.” And Toronto’s Wyrd Visions?

“Oh my God, their record is so good, oh my God,” Pallett said. “It’s so brilliant. It’s so amazing.”

All right then.

So, even if—as Mr. Pallett predicts—you happen to fall out of love with his new musical fantasies on Tuesday night, you might be able to start crushing on a couple of hot, young up-and-comers.

And Pallett won’t mind either way.

He’ll be plucking, bowing and screaming his way through the music that makes him happy, whether or not you’ll be screaming with him.

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