Mother Falcon began as an outlet for a group of orchestra students from Austin, Texas to break from classical formalities and experiment. Defying the loftiness of conventional orchestra, the band has continued past college graduation and solidified as a serious endeavor with their 2011 debut album. Being a full-time project hasn’t made Mother Falcon any less outgoing, and their new album You Knew exemplifies their continued youthful exuberance. One need only watch the music video of the album’s song “Dirty Summer,” which features band-wide roughhousing, to understand that Mother Falcon is still a bunch of college kids at heart.
You Knew challenges a chamber rock classification by featuring cryptic lyrics and eliciting a wider range of emotions familiar to the genre. While a fusion of classical and pop remain at the core, other influences have seeped into the margins. The album edges towards pop on “Pink Stallion,” and tentatively leans toward shoe-gaze on the slow-paced “Sleep,” and a background in jazz is evident throughout. Songs like “What’s the Matter” – in which insistent horns and eerie vocals blend into a chaotic swarm of strings – discard any reliance on simple song structures.
There are enough disappointments to make the listening experience less than great. The male-female back-on-forth doesn’t always proceed cleanly, and at times the vocals are drowned out by instrumentals, as with “Marigold.” The symphony-sized ensemble sometimes layers strings, horns and percussion in a garbled clutter. There are even missteps at the other extreme, when not enough is brought to the table, as in the awkwardly shy “Porcelain,” which aims at fragility but accomplishes weakness.
While there are a few weak spots, there are some tracks on the album which represent the coherent, finished quality that Mother Falcon needs to pursue. “When it Was Good” and “Marfa” have moments of greatness, and several others are nearby. You Knew is evidence that, with a more unified orchestration and continued dedication, Mother Falcon can soar to greatness.