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Out of Love
Mister Heavenly Out Of Love
Released 12 August 2011

Mister Heavenly,
Ryan Hadlock
Label Sub Pop
Length 36:16
Genre Doom wop
Website www.misterheavenly.com

Even before the first note of their debut album has played, Mister Heavenly have piqued my interest. They’re a supergroup of sorts, combining the talents Ryan Kattner (Man Man), Nicholas Thorburn (Islands) and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse / The Shins). They reside in their self-made niche genre of Doom Wop and have been known to draft in Michael Cera (of Juno and Arrested Development fame) as their touring bassist. It all seems so hip and quirky, the kind of album your annoying friend, who only likes bands you’ve never heard of, will wax lyrical about for months on end.You’ll fob them off and promise to ‘check them out’ when you get a chance while inwardly you’ll be re-evaluating your friendship.

But maybe this time you should hear them out.

I should probably try explain the new genre first off. There doesn’t appear to be any hard and fast rules as to what constitutes Doom Wop; there is a recurring Rockabilly flavour but it’s far from the defining sound of the album. You have the vicious stomp of opening track 'Boston Sniper' counteracted by the flighty and playful 'Pineapple Girl' while the laid back drawn out groove of 'Reggae Pie' is the antithesis of the succinct robot rock of ‘Doom Wop’. Doom Wop would appear to be an all encompassing genre perhaps better described as a state of mind than anything instantly recognisable to the ears.

If the genre definition needs some ironing out, the song writing definitely doesn’t. The tracks mentioned above are all great examples of Mister Heavenly’s versatility in composition but the true worth of this album is found in its Rockabilly moments. Kattner’s baritone growl mixes perfectly with Thorburn’s softer vocals on songs of love and regret. The highlights come thick and fast, starting with the desperation laden 'Charlyne' quickly followed by 'Mister Heavenly' which has the band in apologetic mood for all their hidden flaws. 'Harm You' is a much more low key affair with Thorburn’s vibrato guitar mimicking Hank Marvin to a tee while 'Hold My Hand' starts out as an innocent love song before becoming a little sinister in the second verse, all in good fun of course.

When 'Wise Men' brings the album to an abrupt close you finally have a chance to take stock of what you have just witnessed. The mix of Thorburn and Kattner is magical, not every song is a winner but given that this is a side project the strength of the album is surprising. Plummer’s drumming is beat perfect, fitting in nicely on whatever style Mister Heavenly decide to try their hand at. The downside to all this is the realisation that all three men have day jobs to return to meaning Mister Heavenly can only really exist in spare time. It seems a pity that Mister Heavenly output will be limited by circumstances but lets hope this isn’t the last we hear of the Doom Wop pioneers.

- Brian Kinsella