Heaven, the fourth album by remarkable Cincinnati-based Indie Pop troupe Pomegranates, was released nationally on June 5, and this weekend the group presents a hometown album release party to celebrate. And there’s plenty of reason to celebrate — Heaven is a stunning work of art that manages to top not only the Poms’ past three albums, but also most “big name” releases this year so far.
Heaven is the quartet’s first album under their new deal with Modern Outsider, the relatively new Austin, Tex.-based label that released the latest LP by Cincinnati Indie duo Bad Veins, The Mess We’ve Made, earlier this year.
Heaven is the Poms’ most dynamic effort yet, perfectly meshing the group’s trademark twilight sparkle, artsy but fluid experimentalism and hooks that creep rather than nag. That mysterious, trickling, hypnotic ambiance that has pervaded the group’s sound from the start is layered more vividly thanks to the strong new material and co-producer Miguel Urbitztondo, who has worked magic on similarly enigmatic recordings by Sparklehorse and Daniel Johnston.
Heaven is a great sounding album, for you fidelity-heads — with a good set of headphones or speakers, one can hear in crystal clarity the subtle yet magnetic ornamentation lurking around each corner. “Art Pop” is perhaps the most fitting descriptor of the Poms, and Heaven is a modern Indie music masterwork, eschewing the rulebook of Pop music with structural twists and turns that are consistent and fluid but rarely predictable.
Listening to the album in full for the first time is a completely mesmerizing experience, reminding me of the way a great film or the best albums by Popadelic Indie giants of Montreal can pull you into a different dimension. On Heaven, the listener follows Pomegranates as if the four musicians were your spirit guides on the thrilling sonic journey, rolling through Ambient Pop like the title track, then traveling on through the falsettoed New Wave Funk of “Passaway,” the pining, emotional piano-ballad-on-a-heartbeat “Surfing the Human Heart” and the Bon Iver-esque “Dream.”
“Letters” is a clear standout and encapsulates everything Pomegranates do so well in one track; it’s the song you should send your friends who ask, “What do they sound like?” The track opens with harp-strings and floats on a gauzy, hazy and lazy pulse of tom-drums and other sparse percussion, reverbed-out Surf-like guitar and a chant-like melody. Then, without notice, about a minute and a half in, the tranquility is interrupted by a distorted blast of noise before falling back into the song at a more lively pace, those chanting melodies becoming more extroverted and less muted. The song continues to build, the harmonies stacked higher and higher, the dirty bass dirtier than ever, and the drums trekking along like a vintage train-shuffle beat rewired for a Bullet Train trying to break a speed record, before collapsing in overdriven, buzzed-out exhaustion.
Listening to “Letters” alone is more rewarding than listening to 75 percent of the albums being released today. Tack on the nine other gloriously creative tracks and you have an album so fantastic, if it doesn’t move the semi-underground cult faves closer to becoming more of a household name to the majority of Indie music fans on the planet, I’ll weep for the future of music.
Pomegranates’ all-ages release party for Heaven is this Saturday at the Madison Theater in Covington with special guests Josh Eagle and the Harvest City, The Yugos and Shadowraptr. Tickets are $10 and showtime is 8 p.m.
MidPoint Music Festival 2012 Lineup Announcement
On June 6 we will announce on the music blog at citybeat.com the first installment of performers booked for this year’s MidPoint Music Festival, which returns to Over-the-Rhine (including the new Washington Park) Sept. 27-29. Several top-line Indie artists — from new buzz groups and some current, critically acclaimed favorites to a few true Alt music pioneers — will be revealed in the initial announcement (at least 20 of the planned 170 acts will be unveiled).
Be sure to visit mpmf.com, as well, for all the latest updates and to score your tickets. VIP and “Early Bird” (read: discounted) all-access passes are available now through cincyticket.com.
If you’d like some face time with the MPMF authorities, just head down to Fountain Square this Friday for the free MidPoint Indie Summer concert at 7 p.m. The event kicks off with local Ska/Reggae/Soul masters The Pinstripes, joining Malian artist Khaira Arby and Funk/Soul headliners The Dynamites.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]