The Upshot: At times odd, others pristinely poppy, the collaboration ultimately seems perfectly natural.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner may live in different worlds, but they have a lot in common. Both are multi-instrumentalists and songwriters dedicated to the art of the hook. Both are inveterate home studio obsessives, even if the latter can’t approach the former’s gonzo productivity. Both have a tendency to leaven their pop beauty with varying degrees of eccentricity. The only real difference is that Falkner spends his time in between projects working as a sideman or producer, while Moore – well, Moore doesn’t really take time off between projects.
So the duo’s collaboration on Make It Be is a perfectly natural one. The give and take on display here indicates the process was organic, with each man assuming the responsibility most logical at the time. Moore contributes most of the songs, with Falkner co-writing five and writing one (“Horror Show”) by himself. Though it’s impossible to say who played most of what, the smoothness of the performances and arrangements hints that Falkner might’ve taken on the lion’s share of picking and grinning. Certainly the pair shares the vocals fairly equally, with Falkner sweetly singing Moore’s tunes with as much conviction as he would his own – cf. “Sincero Amore,” “Play Myself Some Music” and “Another Day Slips Away.” Moore himself gets in on the action via the first half of “If You See Kay/Run For Our Lives,” “I Love Us, We Love Me” and “I H8 PPL,” an anthem for cheerful misanthropes everywhere.
Things do take turns for the odd from time to time, from the inner monologue electropop of “That’s Fine, What Time?” and exuberant rant of “Stamps” to the off-kilter instrumental “Passed Away Today” and sardonic Moorenologues “Prohibited Permissions” and “Album Drop.” But that’s not only to be expected, but desired. We wouldn’t Moore to play it completely straight all the way through – that would be like a Sparklehorse album without the noise tracks and unexpected bursts of static. Nicely balancing quirk and craft, Make It Be works so well one hopes this isn’t the only time this pair swings together.
DOWNLOAD: “Sincero Amore,” “I H8 PPL,” “Play Myself Some Music”