Thank Heaven for bargain bins. A few weeks ago I was rummaging in HMV’s attractive 4 for £10 clearance boxes, home to many unknown releases alongside flops by bigger artists like Nelly Furtado and Leona Lewis (I got those too…). One name that jumped out at me was Susanne Sundfør, who I’d heard of already on recently Röyksopp collaboration “Running to the sea”.
Susanne’s gorgeous voice really set off the typically bleak Nordic electronic track, so I didn’t pass up the opportunity to get her latest album, recently made available in the UK. It was that or Solange’s latest, I think I made the right choice.
08 Diamonds – Bit of an understated intro, and a little off putting before it gets going. That spooky acapella intro followed by that chilling wall of electronic sound breaks quite nicely into the pacey tempo of the main track. There are some good hooks in there, and that brief reprieve from the beat is lovely. Takes a while to get into it, and has its place, not reminding me of anyone else as some tracks do. I hear different bits every listen.
10 White Foxes – I reviewed this a few weeks ago, I think I heard it months ago but now it really clicked and it’s a great choice of a single. From that tick-tock intro to the first burst of electronica, it’s full of surprised. This is my first wow moment at her voice, and really made me sit up and notice the album. Really gorgeous, and her vocals are death-defying without bring totally uncontrolled.
07 Rome – On a bit of a tangent, it wisely avoids trying to be as commercial as the previous track, to the point that it takes a while to get going. But eventually those creeping synths make their way in. But her vocals remind me of something between Björk and Kate Bush to degrees. Not quite as undeniable as the first tracks, but once it finds its feet it’s rather good.
07 Can you feel the thunder – More Bush-esque sound, with a dash of early Tori too, what a curious mix. A bit more of a basic piano-led ballad, resting heavily on her vocals as the instrumental melody is all over the place. The bit about “mah baddy” really reminds me of Kate’s first album. Quite lovely really but not something I remember too easily.
09 Meditations in an emergency – Bit of a pretentious title isn’t it? This is just an instrumental interlude, but it’s beautiful, I’m all over a string orchestra like white on rice, and this is a prime example.
05 Among us – Eww, that croaky Geiger counter intro and that unsettlingly spooky opening section doesn’t sit well with me. The song itself I’m not a big fan of, it’s a bit meandering and strange, difficult to concentrate on. Not really got into this one.
10 The Silicone Veil – What a difference, I think this song might even challenge “White foxes” as my favourite, not least down to some hair raising YouTube clips I’ve seen of live performances. It starts modestly, with just a harp and her gorgeous vocals. But soon the backing starts to build, and with a sky high vocal turn it kicks off. The song just builds, supported all the way by Susanne’s beautiful vocals and twinkling magical production. By the end, there are orchestral crescendos, a key change and stomach-lurching vocals that just leave you hanging at the end while beepy electronics play her out.
07 When – After that display anything will be a comedown, and the drawling intro verse doesn’t instil great confidence. But the first chorus (if that’s what it is) has a lovely melody and more early Bush parallels. It’s a nice song, doesn’t set my world on fire, but it has it’s moments.
08 Stop (don’t push the button) – More gorgeous strings open this one, really wonderful, but they make way for sleazy synths and one of the stronger melodic hooks on the album. Susanne appears with an almost acapella folky section. It sounds quite old fashioned but I like it. What an odd song though, a bit disjointed with all those fairly distinct sections.
07 Your prelude – Playing is out now, more softly-spoken vocals. I love her tone, there’s a nice richness in here, it might even sound a bit lazy but you can understand her. Reminds me a little of Nerina Pallot. Love that piano tinkling segment, though what the hell, it segues into a big brassy synth section. It fortunately feels a lot more joined-up than the previous track, and it’s quite a nice end to the album, if a little abrupt.
So, that’s that. I really enjoyed this album, and I’ve already downloaded her previous breakthrough album “The brothel”, so expect a review in the near future for that too. I love her vocals, and the album’s sound ticks all my boxes for a female singer in her area, so it’s not surprising that she reminds me at various points of Björk, Tori and Kate, some of my favourite artists. She did a song on the “Oblivion” soundtrack too, with M83, so I’ll have to look into that too. Best £2.50 I ever spent!
Keepers for the iPod: oh, most of it! Might just ditch Among Us and keep the rest
PS OMG, my browser crashed as I was typing the last segment, I thought I’d lost this whole thing, I’m sweating! Lucky day…