LEON PATRIZ - Pop Monstrosities

Leon Patriz - Pop Monstrosities

15 songs
46:33 minutes
***** ****
Uur Audio Visual


If a record label usually known for its experimental music is releasing an album called Pop Monstrosities, you should become instantly curious about what to expect. In the case of Leon Patriz, originally from Vancouver but now relocated to Montreal, we get a quirky indie pop singer/songwriter whose new effort is published on old-school cassette tape (for those few among you who still call a tape player their own) and on digital platforms.

The physical medium allows even better to divide the album into two section, where the first one is highly astonishing and incredibly pleasing. The opener Piece Of Mind starts regularly enough with a dry electric guitar, and when Leon Patriz adds his shaky and slightly off-key vocals, we get a certain whiff of Julian Cope. The fun thing is that he hired a backing band, where especially the two saxophonists add a charming soulful atmosphere reminiscent of some Elvis Costello material or also the strange sonic universe of the Danielson Famile. All in all this is a truly great composition and always a joy to listen to it again. The following Pray For Me comes with guest vocals from Sarah Lowenstein. Her somewhat lethargic voice takes some getting used to but once again itís the saxophonists and the moving songwriting that make this another winner. Blue Star is a short and fun indie pop song, showing once and for all that we are in the presence of a master composer. The three next tracks follow in that same band modus, with the production being clear and warm enough to give it all of the advantages and none of the flaws of a lo-fi recording.

A short untitled interlude, with strange arpeggios played on a vintage electric piano or organ sets the mood for the B-side of the cassette tape which is more of a solo effort, although with occasional guest appearances to be made out. Milk, Cinnamon, And Honey comes with an Omnichord type low drone, and itís only during the songís second half that tentative vocals join. Idleness comes with a more typical structure but feels less polished than the material on the A-side. Still, it has its charming moments. Plastic Salad Tongs is another lo-fi folk excursion that manages to combine regular structures with unusual sound architecture. Honeydew sounds like a mournful dirge, once again played possibly on the Omnichord. More experimental stuff follows with the short but strange When, before the six and a half minute long Oh Sweetness is a pleasant exercise in self-indulgent weirdo folk. When The Cold Hits is a chillingly Arctic ballad that fits the mood of a Canadian artist, before another untitled track ends the album after three quarters of an hour with another vintage synth meandering.

The A-side of Pop Monstrosities is really extraordinary and deserves the maximum rating, whereas the B-side makes for more challenging listening but still has so much variety that it never feels like a boring stunt of navel-gazing. The album comes in a limited edition of thirty cassette tapes, because these items are becoming ever rarer, but the digital version, while not looking as retro cool as the real deal, will still leave you with plenty of great music from a yet to be discovered lo-fi mastermind.

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