Head Of Femur: Great Plains

You have to give Head Of Femur credit for sticking to their guns. Whatever it is they’re trying to do, that goal definitely doesn’t include selling records, and for that alone they are to be commended. Head Of Femur wield a curious amalgam of turbulent progressive pop music that’s flat-out strange, falling somewhere between straight-faced Talking Heads quirkiness and the power- pop of days gone by.

Straightforward pop songs sprinkled with weird touches (horns, exotic percussion, you name it) abound here. There’s a lot of verse-chorus-verse jangling pop melodies, with some unusual instrumentation and lush textures backing them up. With some off-kilter vocal harmonies, this album is a hard one to swallow right off the bat. Some of it is listener-friendly though. “Napoleon’s Boots” is a Beatles-sounding tune, with its high- register vocal attack and piano/brass chorus, while “Jetway Junior” is an insistent hand-clapper that’ll have you grudgingly tapping your feet.

The band’s experimentation largely works in their favor. “Open The Door Lucille” is an infectious pop number with its ragtime piano grooves, but “Covered Wagons” is the absolute masterpiece of the album, with its orchestral Peter Gabriel vibe and nostalgic lyrics. A calmly paced tune with a faint bossa nova rhythm section, the band’s evocative songwriting prowess is on full display here.

In short, this album is not for everybody. There are pop hooks, but they’re sometimes obscured by mellow progressive tendencies. This approach may not click with everybody, but accessible numbers like “Climbing Up Fire Escapes” guarantee there’s a little here for everybody. Though eccentric and curious, the album is a rewarding listen if you like pop music that’s intentionally a little off the mark.

In A Word: Refreshing