[TAGLIERINI WESTERN] Ever since a handful of locally based, globally feted tastemakers first embraced the misterioso-profundo orchestral élan of Sergio Leone-styled film scores, discussions of Federale inevitably invoke "cinematic" as a key descriptor. True, the band's members insist each of their albums primarily exist as soundtracks for genre flicks of their own minutely detailed imagining. They have accompanied Lego Movie scenes, Ana Lily Amirpour's buzz-borne 2014 Iranian vampire flick A Girl Walks Home At Night featured five Federale songs, and the same director chose "All the Colours of the Dark," eponymous opener of their latest LP, for prime aural placement within upcoming Keanu Reeves-Jim Carrey cannibal comedy The Bad Batch. Still, in the laziest critical shorthand, cinematic music generally means instrumental music—approachable evocations of hummable, shimmering menace, particularly—and that no longer strictly applies to Federale. All the Colours of the Dark, the septet's debut for artisanal soundtrack imprint Death Waltz, newly showcases lyrical narratives voiced in full. Toiling so long and so artfully within the thankless constraints of its rarefied milieu elevated the group's trademark tweaked-vintage aesthetic well beyond mere pastiche, and as Morricone devotees surely knew, there's no better means of heightening drama than elongated wordless tension. Set against bristling, decorous soundscapes ever hinting at playful release, Federale jefe Collin Hegna unfurls a honeyed baritone that calls to mind Scott Walker at the Grand Ole Opry—or, for the title track's scorched-country duet, a reverse-engineered Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. The best of these songs were made for tuneful, robust talking. And, with enviable grace, that's just what they do.
SEE IT: Federale plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., on Saturday, Aug. 20. 6 and 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. Early show all ages, late show 21+.