Russian Futurists | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Russian Futurists 

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Twice now young Matthew Adam Hart, aka the Russian Futurists, has holed up in his Toronto apartment with a bunch of cheap keyboards and crawled out some months later with an album of wintry electronic pop: first 2000's The Method of Modern Love, then 2002's Let's Get Ready to Crumble. Over gamely aggressive synthesized beats and under a reverb-fluffed blanket of harp, xylophone, and jingle-bell sounds, Hart's slightly adenoidal voice trips through his brokenhearted-smarty-pants songs like a kid headed for the sled hill in Spider-Man moon boots. Though the debut didn't want for concise, poppy material, the follow-up is even more addictive; perhaps the disc Upper Class is hoping to release later this year will come with a bag of crack. So far I've got it worst for Crumble's "It's Not Really Cold When It Snows," where Hart establishes a harmless-seeming sing-along chorus, then pounds it in with a majestic bass part. He may never escape comparisons to the Magnetic Fields, but though he shares with Stephin Merritt a fondness for underwatery synths and jilted narrators, Hart lacks Merritt's fundamental bitterness. In fact, the bleaker a song's subject, the more confectioners' sugar he pours on: while I was bopping around the house to lines like "I bet I was a tasty morsel for you to chew and tear into" (from "Karkarodon Karkarius," on Method), the cold, slushy parts of the soul seemed as remote and pretty as the blizzard outside the window. Zelienople headlines, Some of the Quiet opens. This show is free. Monday, February 16, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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