I knew this would be fantastic and I was completely right. Mister Heavenly’s debut will most likely be in my end of the year list, and there are plenty of reasons for that. Most of them boil down to the people involved, namely Islands and Unicorns mastermind Nick Thornburn and Man Man’s main man Honus Honus (aka Ryan Kattner). Each of them, having their own unique set of talent and style, come together here to create some really non-standard, self-described “doom-wop,” and in my opinion they massively succeed.
Out of Love has been on personal repeat all week, and I’m actually now wondering if it’s worth getting the album on vinyl. Surprisingly, this isn’t my pretentious inner hipster talking, but is actually the result of listening to the record and comparing it to its influences. We can all agree that there’s no sound better than a vinyl crackle followed by a warm and loving doo-wop group belting out some hits, and that’s the vibe Mister Heavenly captures. The songs are inventive, short, and to the point. There is very little excess save a reggae outro and an unnecessary song toward the end. Everything else is brimming with excitement and enough melody to keep one humming for weeks.
“Charlyne” is currently my favorite track, although it might only be because it sounds exactly like a Little Joy song (which lets me I imagine a tour featuring both groups which would likely be incredible). That aside, there are literally eight songs in a row that I would consider great, and if the album stopped there it would be near perfect. Now that doesn’t mean the last four songs aren’t good, but they don’t hit the same mark as the prior tracks. This is one small complaint in a sea of good things, and shouldn’t diminsh yours, nor the band’s, spirits.
The biggest reason I like this album so much is really quite simple though. This record is the closest we’ve gotten so far to Ryan Kattner pulling back the eccentricities and making a full on “sad bastard on piano” album. This has been a secret wish of mine since I first heard Man Man’s “Van Helsing Boombox.” That song solidified this idea in my head that Honus could channel some kind of Tom Waits magicianry and put out a fantastic album along the lines of Heartattack and Vine. I still think he can do it, and Out of Love is a great listen, as well as a huge step in that direction.
One last thing I need to do is show Joe Plummer some love. He definitely brings a simple, yet elegant talent to the group, making each song distinct and keeping things basic enough to not overshadow the songs themselves. No wonder he’s a prt of Modest Mouse and the Shins. All in all, I heavily recommend Mister Heavenly’s debut, and if you’re really lucky you might even get to say ex-Sex Bob-omber Scott Pilgrim feature on bass live…