Tag Archive for 'Stockholm'

AlmostAGhost’s Top Albums Of 2012: #21. First Aid Kid – The Lion’s Roar

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

just a shadow of your former youth

This is how strong I found 2012: for much of the year this was my #1 album. It drifted down a bit the latter half; but listening now I almost feel I should bump it way back up. Regardless, the numbering doesn’t really matter. The Lion’s Roar is a showcase for First Aid Kit, two sisters from Sweden. It shows off their sparkling crystal voices, deep and slightly philosophical lyrics, gorgeous melodies. Their maturity is almost off-putting, as these two Swedish girls seem to have somehow mastered folk and Americana song styles, lyrical songwriting, and being super cool.

First Aid Kit “Blue”

First Aid Kit “The Lion’s Roar”

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2010 – #16. Robyn – Body Talk

Robyn - Body Talk

a single pulse repeated at a regular interval

#16. Robyn – Body Talk

There were a number of fascinating pop albums this year, like Nicki Minaj (bonkers) and Kanye West (huge) and Justin Bieber (kidding). But my favorite comes all the way from Sweden. Robyn released three EPs this year, Body Talk Pt. 1, Pt. 2 and Pt. 3. She also released Body Talk, which had five tracks from each part. All together, her Body Talks are an enjoyable and deep collection of songs.

Robyn’s music is built on the basics of pop music. There’s dancing, dancing alone, crying, boredom, heartbreak, dangerous love, robots. She hits on something primal, that when the body talks, listen. If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. Frustrations happen. Hearts break. Love kills. But through it all, she just keeps moving. “We Dance To The Beat” nails it all down: “we dance to the beat of continents shifting under our feet / We dance to the beat of false math and unrecognized genius / we dance to the beat of gravity giving us a break.” “Fembot” is the most poppy song here, and the main lines are “you split my heart in two / now whatcha gonna do?” Many of the songs have her reacting to this split heart, mostly by dancing. Other times by being sad. Other times by taking on the world.

A few songs show off Robyn’s sometimes dark and dry humor. “Criminal Intent” finds her pleading guilty to “lewd and indecent events” and is being incarcerated for getting “somewhat X-rated on the floor.” (“Would you pardon me for being inappropriately attired?”) This isn’t a surprise if you’re aware of Robyn’s raunchy and hilarious rodomontade from a few years ago, “Konichiwa Bitches.” Here, she and Snoop Dogg effectively write a sequel. On “U Should Know Better” the duo warn the French, the Vatican, Russians, the FBI, the CIA, the LAPD, and the Prince Of Darkness not to fuck with them.

Wikipedia has a quote from Robyn describing one of her songs as a “sweet and sour bon-bon wrapped in melancholy,” which sums her up better than I ever could. The melancholy wrapper around fun electro pop music and ideas makes Robyn’s Body Talk one of the tastiest albums of the year.

Here’s one song from each of the EPs:

Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”

Robyn – “U Should Know Better (feat. Snoop Dogg)”

Robyn – “Stars 4-Ever”

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2010 – #25. Sophie Zelmani – I’m The Rain

some prefer the sunlight

some prefer the sunlight

#25. Sophie Zelmani – I’m The Rain

In thinking about I’m The Rain, Sophie Zelmani’s eighth album, I am struck by how similar it is to basically everything else she’s done. Artists certainly often maintain their own style, but most also branch out a bit (especially by their 8th album). Zelmani, on the other hand, does much the same thing over and over. I have heard, and love, all of her records, but none stands out above any other. She has matured a bit, but I’m The Rain‘s personality does not differ from that of any of her other albums. Normally, I would find this problematic or frustrating, but it never bothers me at all with Zelmani. I want more albums from her, and I want them all to be like this one. (And that’s what she gives me!)

I’m The Rain continues Zelmani’s use of very elemental metaphors. I assume it is because she is Swedish, yet writing in English, but her songs tend to be about love, ships, rooms, weather, time—all the basics. She doesn’t get fancy. But again, this is not a criticism: the lyrics fit the light touch of the music very well, and are even more perfectly matched to her shy, whispered vocals. Less poetic, sure, but Zelmani’s lyrics come off as pure expressions. For instance, the opening lines of “If I Could” are: “if I could give anything, I would / if my thoughts could do you good / If I could help you with this part of life, you’d get a lift / You could load your weight on me.” Not the most beautiful lines ever written, but when you hear it, you know she feels it and is saying what she wants to say. What more could you want?

I’m The Rain frequently borders on sad, but in the end is quite hopeful. She is always on that borderline. She uses piano riffs a bit more on this record to enhance the mood, and the acoustic-guitar beds on which she lays her voice can be surprisingly complicated (check that Spanish guitar on “You Can Always Long For May” below). As Zelmani sings, “some prefer the sunlight and some like the rain,” and well, if she’s the rain, that’s what I prefer.

“You Can Always Long For May”

“Interior Design”

- almostaghost