Oh, the exuberance of youth — a time when we scoff at being told “less is more,” exclaiming instead that “only more can be more!” Why limit music to standard guitar/bass/drums? Why not cellos, violins, banjos, saxophones and horns? Why only four people on stage when you can have 10, a dozen, even 20 musicians? These are the questions that Austin-based Mother Falcon asks, and it’s this spirit the group’s sound embodies.
I hesitate to call Mother Falcon a band. Perhaps it’s a pop-music-orchestral collective, but that’s not quite right either. Rather, they are a group of insanely talented, classically trained music-school friends that grew tired of playing the works of dead white Europeans and instead decided to lightning-bolt their sound into now. Mother Falcon blends string quartets with Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire with a four-alarm fire. They once performed the entirety of Radiohead’s OK Computer live.
Mother Falcon’s 2013 album You Knew is big, ambitious, dynamic and emotive; it’s finely arranged chamber pop that aims for the cheap seats. The track “Marigold” bursts with heart-on-your-sleeve energy, featuring a chopping and swooping string melody, a romantic horn line and a he-said, she-said vocal arrangement. Blending together, the voices sing: “Is this love? I don’t know but tonight I’m going to find out” and “In the crowd of the mad / We are the only smiling faces.”
In other words, “Marigold” and the rest of You Knew is as big and messy as young love, so naturally it overreaches, like the overwrought “When It Was Good.” But the pulse soon quickens with the Mariachi-flavored horns and expressive, syncopated vocals of “Dirty Summer.”
Mother Falcon plays 8:30 pm Sunday, Feb. 16, at Sam Bond’s; $8.