With a backdrop of strike action, unpopular austerity measures, bigotry and corruption in the sporting headlines, and Jeremy Clarkson, there’s a risk that we liberal types with our punk and post-punk predilections have got far too much to get angry about these days. Lucy Holt therefore looks on the brighter side of life, with a couple of highly accomplished pop EPs.
Enrolling into the ranks of the bedroom laptop CGI (Computer Generated Indie) brigade, Kino Feuer, one-man cyborg-balladeer outfit, has released his debut EP, which may or may not be called Home Recordings. That could easily work as simoply a description.
Sounding like a metallic Patrick Wolf, with unignorable tones of Owl City’s hop-skipping pop and unusually folksy finger clicks, Kino Feuer’s sleek and shiny packet of an EP has got the classic formula sorted ”â lovelorn and digital. However, the moments of “Kraftwerk with the angles smoothed down” in ‘Change Your Ways’ and the cloudy sonic collage of ‘Hold It Steady Now’ hint at something exciting, danceable and remixable – any DJ would have a field-day if they got hold of these. ‘Frosted Love’, an EP highlight, has a brilliantly head-bobbing hook, on top of layers of electro beats, bleeps and tranced-out melodies, as well as the beautifully simple, singable lyrics.
Kino Feuer’s (German for “Cinema Fire”) feel-good tunes with feel-bad lyrics are burning slowly, and, if the success of his comrades in electro-pop is anything to go by, could easily spontaneously combust in the near future.
Some things are unequivocally Swedish; contemporary design, flat-pack furniture and pop music. Jens Lekman fits into the latter catergory. The first one as well, at a push.
His latest offering An Argument With Myself is not so much an EP, but a sonic smorgasbord. Take the title track, with its tropical Little Comets flavours and loveably blunt lyrics, or the soulful reggae tones of ”ËSo This Guy at My Office’ with added panpipes. Really. ”ËA Promise’ is not so uplifting, but the fact it features elements of elevator music is a fair compromise. The euphonious ”ËNew Directions’ opens with what could be the Groundforce theme tune, features a brass ensemble, Latino rhythms and the distortedly delicate female vocals essential for any self-respecting indie popster.
An Argument With Myself is a carnival that’s so varied it almost sounds more like a compilation album. However, Jens’ surreal take on kitchen sink lyrics, much like his NYC counterpart and fellow fan of the mid-song tangent Darwin Deez, and rackety twangy Crookes-style melodies bind the whole thing together. Much like the screws in a musically awkward flat-pack bookcase.
The term “credible pop” may be more cringeworthy than the entire back catalogue of the Eurovision Song Contest, and Scandi-pop may conjure up images of Abba and Alphabeat, but despair not, Jans Lekman is making charming and perfectly constructed Scandi-pop minus the cheese, with components that fit together better than anything from IKEA.