Owen Pallett, the man behind the curtain of Toronto's aptly named Final Fantasy, describes He Poos Clouds as "an eight-song cycle about the eight schools of magic in Dungeons & Dragons." Deception (when used correctly) is one of the oldest and truest art forms, and Pallett should get an award for not producing either a wimpy and ironic whine-fest that utilizes childhood fantasies to dispel adult social anxieties or a sardonic lo-fi power metal record that pays "tribute" to the sword-wielding epics of Iron Maiden and Dio. Instead, the one-man classically trained Canadian string section -- think Andrew Bird and Patrick Wolf -- has created a gem of a baroque pop record that manages to appeal to both the bespectacled hipster and the disgruntled orchestra student. Employing a measured croon caught somewhere between Scott Walker and Louis Philippe with a soft Donovan-esque vibrato, Pallett assumes the position of narrator on the opening track, an ornate snapshot of youthful longing that manages to balance lyrics like "she has a heart that will never melt" and "but the quarry don't share his taste for Anne McCaffery" with equal parts heartbreak and bravado -- he shares more than a little in common, both musically and lyrically, with the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. Alternately dissonant and willfully melodic, each track that follows carries with it the possibility of either a crushing sigh of defeat ("I'm Afraid of Japan") or a violent outburst of passion (the one-two punch of the lilting and rhythmic "Song Song Song" and ultra-dramatic/dynamic "Many Lives 49 MP"), making He Pools Clouds far more dangerous than it is cloying and pretentious, despite all of its intentions otherwise.