I don’t know if there have been any studies attempting to explain the disproportionately large amount of seriously good Scandinavian pop music, but my girlfriend suggested that it’s a sort of variation on the “Seattle Effect” of lots of bad weather and not much to do leading to creative types picking up guitars (other instruments also available) and making music. The urban surroundings of Seattle birthed grunge, however much of the music coming out of Scandinavia is a sort of multi-instrumental, challenging and slightly left-of-center pop-music. Why? Well, my potentially hopelessly romantic image of Scandinavian countries being full of beautiful forests and mountains and wolves (and dragons?) is maybe the reason for this edgy, natural, widescreen sound.
There is a thread of similarity that links acts like The Knife, Bjork, Fever Ray, Lykke Li and The Cardigans – and that line also extends to Philco Fiction. This three-piece, from Norway, is blessed with a singer/songwriter who flits easily between soaring choruses and breathy, pained love songs, as well as two multi-instrumentalists who create by turns brooding, by turns grandiose soundscapes. Their debut album Take It Personal was released in Norway last year, but is getting a re-release in the UK and on iTunes this year. There are 4 songs from the album in circulation on the internet, which amply showcase their range of sounds, and pop-sensibilities. “Help!”, the opening track, turns into an 80’s synth-pop jam after a slow build, and “Horizon” also sees synth stabs and an upbeat feel, but it is the slower, painfully sad “Finally”, and the masterful, swelling 7 minute long “Portrait Of Silence” that are the real highlights. Big up Norway!