There are places during Owen Pallett's second full-length album as Final Fantasy where the music is so well composed that you wonder what such a silly title is doing with such meticulous music. Expanding in large ways upon his debut of Has A Good Home (which was just Pallett, his violin, voice, and a looping pedal), his newest effort finds him working with a string quartet, piano, harpsichord, and percussion for much more detailed and rich instrumentation.
Lyrically, Pallett touches on everything from self doubt to suicide in colorful and odd ways that fit well with the music itself. The album-titled track of "He Poos Clouds" moves with urgency, as strings play out ascending melody progressions while rolls of percussion and even a burst of horns make the song sound much happier than it actually is. The same goes for "This Lamb Sells Condos," which might be the best track on the entire album as two piano melodies intertwine in playful ways while quivering strings add another layer. A children's chorus even comes in at the end of the song, making a creepy juxtaposition to the more aggressive vocal styles and lyrics (which detail a fight between a couple).
In some places, the album seems to lose direction a bit, especially during the middle section. "I'm Afraid Of Japan" is the worst offender, and despite a short beautiful flourish in the middle, it languishes in weepy and/or droning strings for the rest of the duration. Fortunately, the album picks up quite a bit on "Song Song Song," which features some clacking percussion that the string arrangements are then able to weave around as the more buoyant track really takes off.
Despite some fine moments, overall the release definitely feels like sort of a transitional effort from Final Fantasy. Every track doesn't have to make a huge racket, but it seems like the expanded palette isn't used to full potential in many places, leaving a couple tracks sounding more like sketches (or songs from his previous album) comparatively. With a gorgeous closing track like "The Pooka Sings," it's hard to fault the release too hard, but here's hoping Pallett's next album is just as large of a stylistic leap.