The Russian Futurists The Weight’s On The Wheels
Much as Scottish outfit Belle And Sebastian lost much of its initial magic when its principals decided to brighten up the corners of their gentle songs, the charming aspects of Matthew Adam Hart’s music have been inversely proportional to the production quality of The Russian Futurists’ albums. But unlike Stuart Murdoch and company, who made the most of the sheen and breathed new life into a band that seemed to be fey-ding away, Hart has gotten less interesting as he’s moved further from 2000’s The Method Of Modern Love. For proper album four, Hart moved his electro-pop operation out of the bedroom and into Michael Musmanno’s production studio, and the results are more often than not frustratingly pedestrian, and occasionally just downright cheesy. Things start off nicely with the bouncy, big-chorused “Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds,” but pretty soon, we’re confronted with “One Night, One Kiss,” a modern-day yacht-rock duet with Ruth Minnikin that includes lines like “There’s no doubt we’re made for each other / baby, let’s be lovers / and spend the rest of the night under the covers.” And no, he isn’t being ironic. Musically, things take a turn for the worse when Hart tries to do some sort of Keith Sweat thing on “100 Shopping Days ’Til Christmas,” a soulless soul song about pining for a former lover; once again, even a little irony can’t save the day. To be fair, The Weight’s On The Wheels is peppered with nice hooks and a few clever moves, and it ends just as strongly as it began, with the dream-poppy “Horseshoe Fortune.” But precious little tunes like this need more than just catchiness to make an impact.