Benoit Pioulard is the nom de guerre of songwriter Thomas Meluch, whose work often blurs the line between experimental and pop music. Nowhere is this vision conveyed so clearly as on Hymnal (Kranky), a collection that drones and sways with richly hued instrumentals and sun-bleached folk songs. "Margin" belongs to the latter set, ambling into focus with a hissy loop before jettisoning off across dusty, weathered plains. A bed of jangly guitars and glimmering synths allows Meluch's calming voice room to breathe without overreaching, with the whole affair lent extra mystique by its feathery, reverb-soaked production. That mystique is enhanced by Hymnal's thematic core. Companion songs like "Mercy," "Gospel," and "Reliquary" help paint a loose portrait of Meluch's time abroad in southeastern England and mainland Europe (he's a native of Michigan), where the area's dense religious iconography became an unlikely muse. Hymnal will be released on March 4th.
51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.