Tuesday 18 February 2014

Jacob Faurholt - Corners

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com

Some cities just seem to have that pull when it comes to music, an almost magnetic force that causes musicians to gravitate towards certain centres around the world. Many UK folk head to London to pursue their dreams, you can say the same of New York, Melbourne and more. Berlin is one such city, and since the late 1960s it's been a hub of creativity. It's there that Danish songwriter and producer Jacob Faurholt resides (we've noted a few times recently how Denmark is a force to be reckon with at the moment). Not only is Faurholt quite prolific in his own name (four albums between 2005 and 2011, the first few before he switched countries), but he's also part of noise-pop band Crystal Shipsss who themselves have released an EP and two albums. This was a fact I failed to realise when first hearing new effort 'Corners', and it's still odd to think that the same mind behind this collection of guitar-pop tunes is leader of the celebrated eardrum-troubling project. The songs on 'Corners' are perhaps an easy introduction to guitar music for the uninitiated. At just over half an hour in length it's not too long, and incorporated in these songs are indie, Americana, powerpop and other variations on classic songwriting that centres around that particular collection of instruments.

It's not all sweetness and light and sugar-coated indiepop: for starters, the title track sounds like a US punk band having a more mellow moment, but it's electric guitars that are strummed, not acoustics. Then it switches to a style more similar to Scottish legends The Delgados' awesome mid-period, before burning out with some slightly discordant piano and battered drums. This song almost summarises what the album is all about. These touchstone are there throughout, but more variety is offered so the record stays fresh and interesting. For example, the very next song, 'Sweet Life', is closer to reflective indiepop, again with an American feel to it and those seemingly unavoidable jangly guitars that make a sad song feel more buoyant and joyous. You do get the impression that Faurholt's life (or subject matter at least) doesn't always go smoothly. 'A Horses Head' ("there has to be a horses head in my bed") is of course associated with atrocious acts carried out by the Mafia, and finds him pleading "hold on to love" as though something great has slipped through his fingers and he only has himself to blame. Something resembling more traditional singer-songwriter fare begins 'Oh My Love', but soon the pleasant buzz of guitars immerses the song in stronger stuff. It's a melodic highlight.

We do get a glimpse of something more acoustic on the Americana-influenced, lovelorn 'Sing & Swing', but using his experience and ear for production, some interesting sounds and instruments creep in, joined by Beach Boys-esque harmonies. There's no surprise on 'Fuzz'; it does what it says and could have come from the pen of Stephen Malkmus or one of his contemporaries. Short and sweet, it then contrasts heavily with the album's thoughtful and personal centrepiece, 'Girls'; a steady-building but stately ode to figuring out the mysteries of love and life in general. Much like 'Fuzz', the opening riff to 'Rock n Roll' pretty much writes itself, but the twist comes in the fact that the rest of the song once more ties in with the US pop/punk/indie scene, and by now we've learnt that this is a major influence on the style of 'Corners'. The other main aspect is the sadness that continually rears its head; this isn't a collection of songs about being young dumb and having fun, it's the reflections of a man with life experience, both good and bad. So it's fitting that before the finale we're given 'Two Moons', a tune that owes a slight debt to 'Deserter's Songs' era Mercury Rev. It's almost a subtle but happier note that rounds thing up. "It's truly one of the most amazing nights" is the opening lines to 'SH' (the initials of a lost love maybe?), but this is brief as it turns out that night was in the past and he's now "all alone" and feeling lost and lonely. If SH is listening, then maybe she'll return and that weight will be lifted. A good job well done.

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