Review Summary: Kristian Matsson’s second album, The Wild Hunt, has more kindness, mercy and compassion than most people I know.
At 6’4”, I’d like to think that I’m pretty tall: kids run and hide when they see me, I’m usually asked to get things down from high places for people, and elderly women constantly wave their canes at me and scream “My goodness, you’re certainly taller than my grandson!!”. But, alas, I am no match for Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth, who actually isn’t that tall
, but makes up for his lack of height in sheer musical grandeur. After wowing critics with his debut two years ago, he’s back with The Wild Hunt
, and without exaggeration, it is one of the best albums I have ever, ever, ever heard, and easily an early front runner for the best album of 2010.
The absolute first thing you’ll do when you give The Wild Hunt
a whirl is immediately notice the voice of Mr. Matsson. Indeed, the dude’s got an unusual voice, of which I can only compare to that of a quacking duck combined with a ferocious buzzsaw. Admittedly, I was put off by his strange voice at first, but I was amazed by how quickly I became endeared with it: his voice is so honest, humane and real, and it fits the music so
well, as it really taps into the emotions he’s trying to convey with his lyrics and his guitar. His voice is certainly a make-or-break element to his music, but I urge anyone weary of his voice to keep at it, because he’ll likely win you over with his honest, adoring delivery.
But a unique voice isn’t the only thing this guy has going for him. As I listen to The Wild Hunt
over and over again, I am so totally floored by Matsson’s ability to create unique vocal hooks for every single song on the album. The Tallest Man On Earth’s ability to create such immensely catchy vocal lines is unsurpassed in my opinion: his unique approach and humane delivery is so superbly crafted and so incredibly satisfying that it really brings the enjoyment of this album to whole other level. Every chorus found on the The Wild Hunt
is so unorthodox, so catchy and so heart-wrenchingly sincere that it’s an undying pleasure to revisit the songs over and over again.
And whereas his previous album, Shallow Grave
, was marred with inconsistency, The Wild Hunt
is nothing but terrific song after terrific song. Whether it’s the sullen shuffles of “The Wild Hunt” and “Burden of Tomorrow”, the rambunctious deliveries of “The King of Spain” and “You’re Going Back”, or the sincere guitar pickings in “Troubles Will Be Gone” and “Love Is All”, every song has its own depth and personality thanks to the vocal hooks and the creative guitar work. He even brings out a piano on the album’s closer, “Kids on the Run”, which proves to be one of the saddest and most stunningly beautiful pieces of the entire runtime.
If you asked me to pick the best track off The Wild Hunt
, I’d have to be secluded in a bunker for a good couple of days just to think about it, and even then I’d probably hesitate to give a you straight answer; there is seriously not one weak link to be found here. The Tallest Man On Earth has created such a sympathetic, beautiful, and overall tender collection of music that it’s terribly hard not to be responsive to it. There’s no doubt in my mind that The Wild Hunt
will be heralded as one of the year’s best, and I personally will have a hard time putting the album down in the weeks, months and years to come.