|Preconceived Notions: I actually didn’t give this album much of a chance when I 1st popped it in, I think if I recall correctly because of the opening vocals….and b/c I had a sh*tload of work on my plate at the time. I don’t know much about them, other than they seem to enjoy extravagant song titles.
After Listening: Actually this wasn’t nearly as bad as I was bracing for, even the vocals have rare moments where they sync with the music in a late era Beatlesque type of fashion (in a “Strawberry Field” sort of fashion- like on some of the chorus on Gronlandic Edit). Musically the album is sort of fashioned with the idea of a groove, which was surprising given the stated subject matter, perhaps some more deliberate brooding efforts would have been more appropriate for a rocky transformation. As it is, there’s a definite disco vibe in the rhythms and even some of the synthesizer backings-mostly on the 1st half of the album In fact, the majority of vocal and song arrangements on here remind me of the mid 70’s disco/pop music until you get up to “The Past”. Which makes sense, since if you can follow the concept of the album it’s the point of the story where we get the transformation of the main character. After the “transformation” we get a few tracks that lose a little of that 70’s pop feel, but it still pops up in the choruses of tracks like “Faberge”. But the subtle style switch is a good thing, b/c lyrically the concept of the album is not easy to follow and needs to be underscored with the musical switch. So we get ultimately on the 2nd half the record a sound palette that mixes in indie rock with 60’s and 70’s style rock. Unfortunately, the more “rock” they seem to get, the more boring the album becomes.
Favorite Tracks: “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” – Love this, sounds like smart, sharp Abba influenced disco pop updated for this generation. They even reference Norway’s black metal in the lyrics, which is bonus points. It even has a brief stripped down section, that seems to reference how the later portion of the album will take a thematic turn.
Least Favorite: “The Past is a grotesque Animal” – Not because of its length, but mainly because of its execution. There’s an attempt to make this song the album’s focal point – in plot “conceptual” terms it’s sort of the 1st climax on the record and is supposed to convey transformation through trial. What we get however, is an unrelenting synth solo that sounds more sci-fi than angst, and the rest of the music doesn’t change enough, or challenge us at all. Disappointing.
Overall 3.956 It’s got some catchy choruses and the music is average, but doesn’t push any boundaries either experimentally, or in a talent sphere. I hear a lot on this record from 60’s and 70’s trippy rock in a light Pink Floyd or “Strawberry Fields” Beatles, to a Bee Gees/Abba disco touch, to indie rock staples…even I think for what the album was really shooting for, which is early glam rock. And so to me, that earns respect-this album isn’t better than any of the original styles it references, but its incorporation of the styles is very impressive. I can hear an updated David Bowie on pieces of this-which fits the concept arc of the main character perfectly. I think in that regard, although some of the songs get bland and sterile toward the albums end, and although the “story” isn’t a clear cut work clearly visible at all times, what we have here is an album of largely catchy songs attempting to meld together influences and references. It’s Concept Pop. Nice effort.