In the 27 years since arriving here from the fifth dimension, cosmic pop-singer Rollin Hunt has learned a great deal about human emotion. Incredibly, he’s almost become one of us: walking the streets of our cities, admiring our women, dancing in our nightclubs–and finally understanding us, crying big, salty tears over our species’ violent destiny. And now he’s dropping one of the first Major Albums of the 2010s, bringing the message of celestial love that’s already earned him a cult-following in England and Canada.
Fans of Rollin‘s far-out R&B (“Unearthly shoo-be-doo,” Jessica Hopper has called it) know him as a lo-fi underdog, an oddly-charming savant who recorded some of his best material on an answering machine. But The Phoney, his first real LP, finds Rollin working it in panoramic, technicolor hi-fi that’s light years from the bedroom studio. The not-so-secret weapon is whiz-kid producer and multi-instrumentalist Doni Schroader, who worked for months with Rollin in manic, all-night studio binges, bringing his songs to lush and lavish life. The gorgeous production that emerged from that west-side Chicago warehouse–jaw-dropping orchestral arrangements and pyrotechnic studio wizardry, an awesome synthesis of organic and electric that’s both warm and futuristic–is as inventive as anything this side of Frank Ocean, with whom The Phoney shares a kind of Tumblr-era sense of digital melancholy.
Most shocking of all, The Phoney has what might be called crossover potential–that is, it speaks not only to the human experience but to intelligent life across the space-time continuum. Unlike, say, Ziggy Stardust, Rollin is the type of otherworldly messenger that you can imagine having a drink with; as a messiah, he’s remarkably accessible–one of us!–and for a ‘phoney’ he seems awfully real. Still, this is a big and important album that threatens to launch Rollin right back through the galactic portals –let’s hope it doesn’t, he’s urgently needed here on earth.
The record collector who brought Death’s …For The Whole World To See to Drag City, Robert Cole Manis, has started his own label called Moniker Records. The Phoney is Manis’ eighth full-length release. Out on April 30, 2013. Check out the first single, “Beautiful Park,” over at The Fader!
Street Date: April 30, 2013
01. Beautiful Park
02. In The Window
05. Separate Ways
06. Castle Of Nothing
07. New Years
10. Trail of Tears