Photograph by Angus Rowe MacPherson

For long-suffering fans of the Russian Futurists, the five-year wait for new material is finally over. But while there’s lots to like about The Weight’s on the Wheels, this new album feels more like an update or expansion of Matthew Adam Hart’s signature synth-pop sound than it does the great leap forward some had hoped for. Much has been made of Hart’s predilection for tinkering and experimentation, but it turns out the brightest moments here come from songs that would not have sounded out of place on his previous releases.

Emerging with a swagger from the lo-fi bedroom sound that characterized earlier Russian Futurists efforts, Hart’s sound certainly benefits from the more polished production that’s gone into The Weight’s on the Wheels, and the result is an innovative and exuberant – if uneven – album. Unfortunately, some of the direct appeals to more eclectic musical influences – in particular the stylistic borrowing from early hip-hop and R&B – go over with all the subtlety of the era’s classic “colourful vest over a puffy white shirt” combination. And they fit about as well, too. For example, with apologies to the four or so people on the planet yearning for a new jack swing renaissance (and especially to any of those four who had envisioned a bearded ginger electro-pop wizard as just the man to lead it), the disposable ‘100 Shopping Days ‘Til Christmas’ provides the low point on the album. It would on its own, like most stocking stuffers, be perfectly innocuous; but it’s the fact that the song breaks up a brilliantly energetic run of momentum that makes its inclusion here in the album so unfortunate.

Thankfully, there’s still plenty here worth listening to at all times of the year. The album’s opener, ‘Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds’, is an instant gem that should remind fans of the Russian Futurists at its best: colourful lyrics bounce playfully off driving synth-beats, culminating in whatever is the bedroom-pop equivalent of an anthemic stadium-rock chorus – probably the sort of thing you wouldn’t mind your roommates hearing you sing in the shower. Other standout tracks on the album, such as ‘Register My Firearms? No Way!’ and ‘Tripping Horses’, also showcase Hart’s ability to mix crisp, clever lyrics into swirling, textured pop classics.

Fans of the Russian Futurists will likely enjoy this latest, most imaginative release, while the exciting and infectious melodies of The Weight’s on the Wheels will surely win Hart some new converts as well.

The Russian Futurists – Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds
The Russian Futurists – Register My Firearms? No Way!


— , November 18, 2010    1 Comment

Thanks for this, Will. I’ve always liked Russian Futurists, although I agree that it gets a bit sounds-the-same-sy.

— Sabrina Diemert, November 19, 2010