Mister Heavenly is, it turns out, as promising as the name suggests. Led by the often dueling vocals of front men Nick Thorburn and Ryan Kattner, the three-piece played a litany of doo-wop-inspired indie pop for just over an hour in front of a loose crowd at the Hi-Dive last night.
Stylistically, the band begged for comparison to the three bands they come from (Man Man, Islands and Modest Mouse). Kattner both looked and sounded, at times, like a young Stephen Malkmus — simple and straightforward — opposite Thorburn’s deeper, more thunderous vocals. The mixture made for an enticing juxtaposition.
The band pulled together pieces of early love ballads and approached twang from time to time, then followed with pounding, heavy choruses that came close to overpowering their intrinsic sweetness. Thorburn’s guitar was alternately clear and chunky, while Kattner’s constant keyboard meandering filled out the sound nicely and Joe Plummer’s drums formed complex rhythm trails.
As the supergroup played through much of its just-released first album, the sound recalled an early ‘90s feel with the songs’ simple, catchy pop rock. “Pineapple Girl” and “Charlyne” were delightfully mixed-up relics, while “Doom Wop,” with its horror film feel, recalled a type of simple pre-grunge. “Mister Heavenly,” with its ultra-catchy guitar riffs, was a clear highlight of the set.
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.