(Through Love / Kanine)
Here’s yet another band I’m encountering for the first time with their second album. Whatever happened to the sophomore slump? I feel like I’ve been having to play catch up all year. At any rate, this splendid album, Morning Thoughts, comes from Gothenburg, Sweden’s Agent blå pronounced “Blue”). Upon hearing this band’s music for the first time, I was instantly smitten. I instantly fell for Emilie Alatalo’s interesting and intoxicating vocals. I’m not sure what it is. Her voice mixed with the band’s vibrant upbeat music reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on. Her vocals keep their own pace – making even the loudest moments here sound somewhat languid. Perhaps I’m reminded of the first Drugstore singles that I flipped over in the mid-90s, along with a touch of Siouxsie. There’s an exotic feeling to these passionate songs that is enticing and exciting.
The opening song (after a brief instrumental opening), “Lust,” is a good example of where I’m coming from. Arvid Christiansen’s drums come on with a western style march propelling the music forward at a different rate than Alatalo’s vocals seem to want to go. Then, once we reach the dramatic chorus, the music becomes a merging of crashing cymbals “Plainsong” – style chimes (The Cure) and an unusual low end bass line from Josefine Tack that feels like it’s pushing the entire song around like a bulldozer. Likewise, the upbeat “Colors of the Dark” skips along at a nice pace, with gorgeous guitar work from both Felix Skorvald and Lucas Gustavsson, while Alatalo sings what could be words of encouragement to a growing child, which is basically a mumbled murmur by the final chorus.
The album’s singles are both absolute gems. “Child’s Play” has a palpable wistful emotion to it that is heartbreaking and beautiful, especially with the bright chorus. Where “Child’s Play” tells us a story of unexplored potential romantic relationship, “Something Borrowed” explores the end of one – one that may have been one-sided. The ache in Alatalo’s voice is drenched in reverb and dramatic and wonderful. The explosive “Cambion” continues this bitter thread with lyrics like: “you never meant a single thing you said / a thing to break / a prey to gain.”
Overall, Morning Thoughts covers some fairly heavy stuff, but the final two songs are sobering. “You’ll Get it When You’re Older” is a breathtaking song, with stinging guitar interplay and a simple yet lush piano thread, about coming to terms with the harsh realities of life and the mortality of ourselves and those we know and love. The LP closes with “Defenestration,” which laments the entire cycle of abusive relationships. It’s quite unsettling, and very very powerful.
I love this!