Heroes & Villains
What Keeps Us From Sleeping at Night
March 21st 2008
Ah…a concept album. Do you know how much we love them? On the back of the What Keeps Us… from Montreal’s Heroes & Villains, there is written a story, which goes as follows.
“Bennie is a private detective. Lalo, a long-time friend, writes post cards for a living. The pair originally bonded on a cross-Atlantic flight, over a common interest in actor Val Kilmer. Lalo has had troubles with authorities in his early twenties, in particular due to his involvement in climate change prevention riots. The two compadres always had a plan: they would both move to Dakar at 32, never to turn back. Bennie after investigating endless cheating cases, is convinced the even he is, somewhere deep in his heart of hearts, betraying his lover. Soon enough he’s driving around the city, desperately looking for himself in the exact same vehicle, heading nowhere fast. After months without any news from Bennie, Lalo moves to Dakar.”
Where to begin? Well this is clearly a wishful soundtrack to a movie with dialog and narration written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. The story of Bennie and Lalo sounds as if it were thought of right after watching The Royal Tenenbaums. With all sincerity, the concept of this record is contrived and all too familiar to be of interest. As for the music, it is often sloppy with drum fills smashing into chord changes, seeming to barley emerge from the incident in sync. The recording quality nicely borders on lo-fi, but the vocals never quite seem to manage an integrated presence within the songs, the lead guitar is often unpleasantly jerky, and the bass guitar is distracting. That being said, Heroes & Villains have written an intensely catchy pop record that deserves a second look.
As emerging artists go, Heroes & Villains have great potential. While their record might have plenty of flaws, it has a lot of excellent moments as well. The songs are incredibly well written. Their style switches from 60’s pop to Pavement-esque indie rock with ease. There are short instrumentals called segues that break the album up into sections. These little pieces are delicious, even if Segue Uprise is a direct and unmistakable rip off the verse structure of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes; I mean there could be a law suit here. Other tracks such as A Letter manage to incorporate seamlessly all the elements that at one time or another on the record seem out of place. Sonically unique among the rest of the songs on the record, the best track is called Black Iceberg. In this song Heroes & Villains exhibit the extent of their potential as an indie band with plenty of creativity to expend. What Keeps Us… is a well written and enthusiastic record. Even though Heroes and Villains at times misstep, they clearly know that they are on the right path and headed in the right direction. I’d welcome a dose of indie-pop from these guys any day.
All Giants are Buried at Sea (EP)- 2005
Air Sea Rrescue (EP)- 2006