Given the obvious wealth of compatibility between Mister Heavenly’s main players—Man Man’s Ryan Kattner, Islands’ Nick Thorburn, and Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer—it’s none too surprising that the band’s first full-length release, Out Of Love, opens with the sound of a Man Man/Islands hybrid moving to Plummer’s pneumatic beats. Lest anyone criticize the feral stomp of “Bronx Sniper” as the sound of Mister Heavenly resting on its death-obsessed laurels, the album quickly transitions into the most curious entry into the ongoing retro-R&B sweepstakes, an experiment in doomed romance and skeletal pop forms outfitted with modern textures and invented slang. (Though it could easily be passed off as a doo-wop vocable, the titular refrain of “Diddy Eyes” is apparently a reference to the distinctive ocular features of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.)
It says something about the collective “end is nigh” mindset of 2011 that Out Of Love is the year’s second prominent indie-leaning release to lace love and throwback pop with paranoia (the first is Cults’ self-titled debut), but unfortunately, Out Of Love features nothing of demented earworm-quality on the level of “Go Outside.” The tropical predator tale “Pineapple Girl” and off-kilter lover’s plea “Charlyne” come close, but otherwise, Out Of Love is an only slightly rewarding diversion from Kattner, Thorburn, and Plummer’s day jobs.