Just because Matthew Adam Hart, the sole member of the Russian Futurists, was born after the ’60s had ended doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. The eastern Ontario resident has gotten the likes of Blur’s Graham Coxon revved up about his lo-fi sample-pop on the strength of his core-of-your-brain-piercing melodies and harmonizing. And rightfully so. But after years of recording in his bedroom, Hart rented a cabin in Northern Canada and ate catfish and drank whiskey until he was done with the album. The result is about what you would expect — a catchy collection of lo-fi sample pop loaded with enough self-loathing and regret to make you really worry for the guy.
You will never again hear someone sing the words “I’m hurtin’, vultures are circlin’/ It never gets better, it never gets better” with more happy-go-lucky aplomb than you will after hearing this record. That lyric is typical of the drunken heartbreak poetry that fills the album, but unless you really pay attention to Hart’s vocals, buried deep within the blissed-out keyboards and stumpy hip-hop beats, you’ll assume he’s singing about puppies or rainbows — not suicide. Every highlight, like the vocals of “Sentiments and Syllables” chasing the music up and down across every note or the shuffling hip-hop beat tinged with triumphant keyboards and strings on “Still Life,” is accompanied by utterly depressing lyrics. But somehow Hart makes it easy to just bob your head.
Oddly enough, it’s his dense mixes that threaten to bring the album down by its end. Though intricate and tuneful, they begin to blend into one another after a few listens. If some of the tracks border on cheesy, then closer “2 Dots on a Map” launches headlong into a tub of Velveeta on its quest for lite-rock radio airplay. But there’s still a lot to like, and that’s due to Hart’s ear for a great tune. So, whoever you are that broke poor Matthew’s heart, please take him back, or we might not get a fourth album.