First Listen

First Listen: Mother Falcon, 'You Knew'

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Mother Falcon's new album, You Knew, comes out May 7.

Mother Falcon's new album, You Knew, comes out May 7. Bryan Rindfuss/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Bryan Rindfuss/Courtesy of the artist

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A super-sized chamber-rock collective from Austin, Texas, Mother Falcon constructs sweepingly majestic rock out of a nine-piece string section, multiple horns, a bassoon, a glockenspiel and a diverse assortment of voices that sing and shout to the rafters. The band makes the most of those many moving parts — its songs shimmer and boom with infectious joy — but Mother Falcon doesn't skimp on the songwriting, either. Listen to "Marigold" or the brightly galloping "Dirty Summer," from the band's forthcoming album You Knew, and you'll hear a group that can juggle more than a dozen discrete components while still crafting impeccable, surprisingly airy three-minute pop songs.

Formed as a free-wheeling, 15- to 20-piece side project for a group of orchestra students, Mother Falcon maintains an educational mission, as well; its members help operate a summer camp for young classical musicians. But on its two full-length albums, You Knew (out May 7) and 2011's Alhambra, Mother Falcon's classical chops fuel a sound that soars with the grandiosity of Arcade Fire at its most anthemic. There's nothing staid or stodgy about Mother Falcon, whose albums capture the hugeness of a band that can't fit on many of the stages it plays.

Self-released and funded via crowd-sourcing, You Knew maneuvers its way through notable shifts in tone, often within moments; it doesn't take more than a few seconds for the band to shift gears between the booming acceleration of "Marigold" and the plaintive brooding of "Porcelain." Diverse and inventive, You Knew positively spills over with ideas and enthusiasm — the hallmark of a left-field treasure to discover and cherish.

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First Listen