by Dave Bertram
Sweden’s Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck have certainly taken their time over their new record, Warnings, which by no account is meant to pose as a soundtrack to the times we currently live in. But a multitude of lost recordings, crashed technology and bumped collaborations later, their 12-track follow-up to 2014’s Chiaroscuro does possess the sonic depth and expansion one would expect from the score of some dystopian cataclysm.
This cinematic ambiance, though, was certainly planned from the off. According to Linden, the album was conceived by watching her favourite films on mute and envisioning new scores for them and the darkness, meandering Lynchian-synths and instrumentation together with the slower, but purposeful pace, certainly bear this out.
The record’s opener, Turn, is nine minutes of inconspicuous symphonic pop, which is littered with Beach House-esque arpeggiated synths and her soft vocals, soaked to the skin with reverb. Death Engine flows down sunlit fjords with its pitter patter drum machine, and its brilliantly twinkling instrumentation carries its intense feeling of loneliness, while Silence conjures images of stars falling through space.
It is not without melody and glamour, though. I’ll Be The Death Of You skulks around an infectious synth line, while The Prophet delivers a grand, soaring chorus you’d imagine Victoria Legrand would be rather pleased with, as Lindén bellows, “We can’t lose this feeling,” to greet elation with loss. But neither top Baby You Have Travelled For Miles Without Love In Your Eyes, which brings together all of the above into the record’s pinnacle. The keen listener might match the chord progression with the genius of Nick Cave – it makes Hearts feel throwaway.
You can image the industrialist calls for tracks hitting the eight and nine-minute mark to be culled and streamlined. But doing so would strip this record of its soul and trim the greenbelt it needs to grow and flourish into. Without doubt, their finest moment to date.