NOVEMBER: Susanne Sundfor – Ten Love Songs

There are periods in musical history when a certain country or part of the world suddenly has a flourishing of incredible output. British rock in the 60s, French electronica of the late 90s/early 2000s, Brazilian tropicalia of the late 60s, German krautrock of the 70s, the late 80s/early 90s golden age of hip-hop.

To add to that, I honestly think we might have to start thinking of Scandi pop of the noughties and teens (WTF are we calling this decade? Can someone please decide – we’re half way through!). The extraordinary explosion in electronic pop from the icy inlets of Northern Europe is really quite something. From Robyn to Royksopp to Annie to Fever Ray, not to mention Swedish Karl Martin Sandberg and his Norwegian cohorts who have written more pop music for American artists than anyone else in the last decade – the breadth, the quality and the standard of their output puts everyone else to shame.

What I love most about it is that there IS a unifying feel and sound, even if the bubblegum of Annie and the icy krautrock arthouse of Fever Ray couldn’t be further apart. There’s a love of melody – and – for me, this is the clincher – there’s a melancholy at the heart of it all that tugs at your hearstrings. Hell, think back to ABBA. They did just that. Perhaps that’s in the DNA of every Scandi performer somewhere!

Also notable is how female fronted this wave is. And somewhere in the midst of all this, here is Susanne Sundfor, sitting RIGHT in the sweet spot of everything I’ve described. The fact that this stunning album – there’s no other word for it – is not a million seller around the world is testament to the embarrassment of riches coming from her part of the world. But do note that in her native Norway, she is a MASSIVE star and this album sold by the truckload.

So, yes, I’m a fan of this kind of stuff, that sounds so effortless but has been toiled over so expertly. But how can this not beguile? From the chugging motorik of Accelerate to the aching pop of Kamikaze, to the grand balladeering of Silence, Sundfor has a wide palette to draw upon, and she doesn’t put a foot wrong. This is undoubtedly one of my albums of the year, and I’m so looking forward to delving into her back catalogue

Finally, one moment that makes my heart skip every time – when the fierce OTT pop madness of Accelerate slips into the chugging, bubbling beginning of Fade Away and you know you’re heading into an entirely different tune. And yes, there IS a touch of ABBA in Fade Away. Why not? You can always learn from the masters.

 

7 comments

  1. misterstory

    I love this album. First listen I thought ‘this sounds like hard work’. Second listen I thought ‘Oh I think I like this’. Third, Fourth and Fifth listens ran one after the other and I was hooked. I had to stop listening to the album for a week as I worried I’d wear it out. Lots of love but not much time to write but will write more later. I love Scandi output too. I love the early knife albums. Fever Ray is one of my all time favourite albums. Loney Dear. The list is pretty long. Its all about the melancholy. You’re right.

  2. nolankane706

    I’d like to start of with a key point… Delirious is an absolute banger. Anyone that doesn’t loose their sh*t dad rock style to this has to have a word.

    Aside from that, like brother Joey, I did really struggle with this for a while. I really had a problem with her lyrics and couldn’t get passed this. Some of them are beyond predictable, they lack imagination, they’re lazy, and she can do better. This was a massive let down in comparrision to some of the other “Scandi Pop’ female artists that have done much better on this from. The likes of Lykki Li and Robin essentially blow her out of the water.

    What does save her is the sound of the album. It’s well written and well produced. It reminds me allot of the sound that Birgir Þórarinsson from Gus Gus comes with, big, warm and versitile from soft to aggressive.

    This album was a nice curve ball and why I like this blog as it introduced me to something new. Long term I’m not sure where this sits with me but currently it’s a nice addition to my ever expanding music library.

  3. whyohwhyohwhy

    There’s a lot to like about this album. And yes, the Scandis seem to be nailing all sorts of this over the past decade. I’m not sure how they do it, but it’s also a bit criminal that while they’re successful at home, it doesn’t really feel like so much of this great music gets much props outside its homeland.

    There’s a lot of familiarity here, which is in no way a bad thing. Shades of Annie (Fade Away), Chrvrches (Accelerate, Kamikaze), ABBA (yes, Memorial), but it flows beautifully, and isn’t afraid to switch from pop to orchestral then to almost EDM-like electronic pop, in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s cheating or selling out but that just feels like it’s what is meant to be. It would feel hammy and forced if it was English, but it just works here.

    Good work Brother David, something I know will continue to grow on me.

  4. whyohwhyohwhy

    I’ve really enjoyed this album, and still do. It’s quite a mixture, almost operatic in places, then, as many have said, a proper set of bangers. Got to love those scandies.

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