The Russian Futurists – Our Thickness

The Russian Futurists
Our Thickness

The Russian Futurists is the brainchild of Matthew Adam Hart who wrote, performed, recorded and produced Our Thickness in his home in Toronto, Canada. Following in the footsteps of his first two releases, Our Thickness expands upon the foundation of his signature quaint, bittersweet pop. Although some people may be initially put off with this disc due to the lo-fi, AM radio sound quality, some patience and repeated plays will eventually reveal an album rich in enough addictive jingles that will fill your head for days. The way it is recorded has a certain side-show feel to it that demands the listener pay close attention, and once Hart has your attention, he will suck you in with his concise, mellifluous melodies and his twisted contemplations on love and life.

Like Beck, The Russian Futurists cut bits and pieces from many musical styles and genres and pastes them on top of each other to create mini-symphonies that sound both strange and familiar at the same time. Each track is constructed around a four- or five-note whimsical motif on top of some punchy percussive beats with layers of sampled electronics and 60s dream-pop percolating throughout. An eclectic variety of instruments and noises, from sitars and player-pianos to honking geese are incorporated making each song unique and difficult to digest all in one sitting. Hart’s distant vocals amid the wall of sound jars the listeners ears from the opening cut “Paul Simon” and sets the tone for this collection of short and sweet fairy tales. As the disquieting production gets lost after a few spins, songs like “Still Life,” “Incandescent Hearts,” and “2 Dots on a Map” will uncover themselves, and majestic Flaming Lips-worthy choruses and keyboards will emerge, managing to be sweet and sunny with a dash of melancholy.

While the music is the sweet, the lyrics are the bitter. Similar to the way the music demands your attention with it’s lo-fi quality, the lyrics demand the same by being buried deep in the mix and are difficult to understand among the pulsing harmonies and sugary beats. More Flaming Lips comparisons can be heard in Hart’s singing style and his voice is somewhat similar to the Lips’ Wayne Coyne. The Russian Futurists’ focus is on affairs of the heart but with a skewed perspective shared with the likes of Eels and The Magnetic Fields. As heard on “Our Pen’s out of Ink,” Hart laments “When we died in our sleep, no one had time to weep,” and on “It’s Over, it’s Nothing,” Hart sings “I’m ugly and buck-toothed, my fucked youth’s been wasted, can’t wait to be cut loose.”

The radio effect is persistent throughout, the 10 songs cover a span of just over 38 minutes, each track lasting just long enough to get hooked and just short of monotonous. This album is a lot more than just a singer/songwriter’s romantic confessions but not quite the grandiose rock of The Flaming Lips and Beck, but The Russian Futurists have carved a nice little niche somewhere in between. Our Thickness should feed the need for fans of homespun, lo-fi, bittersweet pop.