Every once in a while a record comes along that is equally good pop music as it is an enigmatic score-like tapestry of melodies. For his fifth solo record, Norwegian producer Lindstrøm creates an entire world within his defined sound for a record that feels alive and infectious. Merging the concepts of EDM into more complex writing, the album answers the question of what a club would sound like in the world of Blade Runner. Clever album timing or not, the record is one really worth listening to, while only a little bit stretched out in places.
Oozing psychedelic electronica from the start, the album opens on the lush and dreamy “It’s Alright Between Us As It Is.” With flickering effects and huge, inspiring synths, the track starts the album with a smirk. “Spire” kicks alive with beats that sound straight from the Human League, while its ominous keys actually emulate the likes of Blade Runner. Despite its noire inspiration, the frantic rhythms actually make the track one of the most futuristic dance tracks of the year. The track’s build into huge moments of bass are also explosive and really give the track an emotional hook you can sink into before it starts to let its sequencers fly.
“Tensions” digs its drums in deep, for a more house inspired drive in its relentless rhythmic push. Even its more noticeable dance-floor mainstays are elevated by the constant build that it crafts into its sound, never dwelling on one idea for too long. Sophisticated yet inherently free, the track is a beautiful crossroads between techno and cinematic scoring. Hitting a pop note with dense production, “But Isn’t It feat. Frida Sundemo” is a dark and eerie track that stands to be one of the album’s most catchy. The space Lindstrøm creates in each pre-chorus are dreamy while feeling just as lived-in and natural as the overall scope of the record. The glistening chords layered throughout the rest of the track are so satisfying that they make each release a shining moment in the song.
Taking a moment to breathe on “Versatile Dreams (Interlude)” the album dives back into its more dystopian tones, with a bouncing undercurrent leaving an intriguing energy to the track. As the synths widen at the bottom end of the track, there’s a menacing crackle that shows the life that exists in Lindstrøm’s world.
Letting the shimmering synths flow out into “Shinin feat. Grace Hall” the glitch-driven beats have a kinetic movement to their sound that enhance the already noticeable setting Lindstrøm creates here. Grace Hall pushes her addictive vocal lines over the scratching beats, while at times not always feeling a perfect fit with the song’s energy. Even with the occasional out of place swing to the song’s mix, the parts are still strong enough on their own to make for a fun listen. While it certainly takes its time to start moving, “Drift” takes a more sunny approach to the album’s sombre emotions, brightening them up with sounds similar to the “Turbo Kid” soundtrack. This said, with many of the album’s main hooks holding into the song, it does feel like it’s a little too simple to stand on its own. It’s few quiet moments that accent its parts separately however, do offer some more unique production.
“Bungl (Like A Ghost) feat. Jenny Hval” opens terrifying and haunting, as Jenny Hval’s spoken vocals give you goose bumps with the ASMR-like way she delivers them to the mic. Taking a club beat for a disturbing spin, even the harmonious moments are off-putting, letting the more accessible base of the track keep it accessible at all times. Endlessly unnerving while equally hypnotic, the production and Hval’s vocals come together for the album’s most surprising track.
With a steady push, “Under Trees” closes the album with a long-form electronic meditation on sound. Emulating McCartney and Stevie Wonder in its pop chords and twisting piano, it freshens it all up with huge bass dives. Despite some truly sparkling and wondrous moments, the song does feel a little spread out at times to warrant its overall length.
Words by Owen Maxwell