If you have a favourable bias towards male pop stars that look better on radio, are able to make songs about love sound entertaining, and deliver infectious dance tracks , you should take The Russian Futurists for a spin. With his fourth release titled The Weight’s on the Wheels, Matthew Adam Hart, the brain child behind the Toronto based project, provides pure white picket fence pop and homogenous happiness; the kind you might find straight out of 1989. The name of the band, The Russian Futurists, is incredibly ironic considering their tone is not at all reflective of the somewhat bleak outlook predicted for the largest country in the world. Rather, the only struggle the listener will find themselves involved with is a desperate attempt at trying to remove the ultra catchy pop goodness out of their head, but why bother?
The album begins with the first single from this alt pop outfit and it becomes immediately apparent that The Russian Futurists have matured since their previous release. ‘Paul Simon’, the lead track off of their last album and their hit single in 2005, pales in comparison to the danceable bass thump and overly contagious melody in ‘Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds’. Skip a song to ‘One Night and One Kiss’ and you will arrive at sugary duet that will attack your subconscious and leave you involuntarily humming the tune the rest of the day. At this point, it also becomes apparent that the songs on The Weight’s on the Wheels are more than just empty pop ditties; Hart’s interesting lyrical compositions shine through with a romantic spirit and witty rhymes.
There are a few caveats, however, ’100 Shopping Days’ has a motif similar to something from the 80s R&B scene (think Bobby Brown), but the softness of the tune becomes especially awkward when Hart drops an ‘F’ bomb. WTF? ‘To Be Honest’ is perhaps a tribute to the boy bands of the 90s sounding a tad too much like something ‘N Sync might produce. It’s a good thing those tracks are back to back so you can easily skip them and get back to the fun the rest of the album provides.
The Weight’s on the Wheels finishes strong with a couple of songs that slow the beat down a tad but maintain perfect pop proportions. ‘Horseshoe Fortune’, the finisher, is a particularly interesting song with an acoustic guitar strumming along side a unique rhythm combined with great lyrical word play and a fantastic crescendo. It is an incredibly deep track and a great way to end an album that has many memorable moments.
This is The Russian Futurists’ finest hour and while some bands put their life’s work into the first album only to have the sequels fall short, Matt Hart’s creation gets better with each subsequent release. The elements of lo-fi drum machines combined with a polished retro pop sound gives The Weight’s on the Wheels a warm feeling right from the opening seconds and ensures that the album is one you can bring home to grandma…minus the ‘F’ bomb, of course.