The Washington Post

Mother Falcon album review: ‘You Knew’

Mother Falcon will perform in the Washington, DC area. (Shervin Lainez)
“You Knew”

Kindred spirits: DeVotchKa, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens

Show: With Dom La Nena on Thursday
at Iota. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 703-522-8340. $12.

Mother Falcon certainly is a rare bird: It’s an 18-piece orchestral indie rock band that, by its sheer size, has trouble fitting on some stages. Many of its fresh-faced members are recent University of Texas grads with backgrounds in classical music, but the Austin-based group channels an energy that’s much more suitable for a rock club than for a chamber hall.

Despite its huge arsenal of instruments, Mother Falcon doesn’t needlessly embellish. On its second full-length album, “You Knew,” the band places weighty composition in the context of concise, pop-focused songs that mostly hover around four minutes long. That’s not to say, however, that the heavy swaths of strings and bold brass flourishes don’t have a significant impact. In succinct flashes they work together and offer power in collective texture. The rhythm of “Marigold” pounces with punk fury before receding for singer and cellist/mandolin player Nick Gregg’s gentle verses. In calm mode, his voice sounds very similar to that of Sufjan Stevens, but by the whimsical song’s end he screams with hyper, lovestruck ambition.

Gregg’s main vocal foil is Claire Puckett, who takes the lead on “Marfa,” a delicate chamber-folk song that begins with simple violin finger plucks and gradually builds with cinematic anticipation. There’s even greater depth in “Dirty Summer,” which blends jazzy horn outbursts and choral harmonies into a pulsing, arena-ready charge.

Jedd Ferris


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