There’s obviously something in the water in Sweden. Over the last fewyears, a veritable plethora of Scandinavian acts have come forth,specialising in wistful melancholic folky pop: First Aid Kit,Linnea Olsson, José González and Ane Brun.
It’s the latter who Rebekka Karijord is most closely associated with: bothborn in Norway and relocated to Stockholm, they’ve toured together andappeared on each other’s records, and even sound pretty similar – as herguest appearance on closing track Bandages demonstrates. Yet while loversof Brun’s excellent It All Starts With One record will find much to admirein Karijord, there’s also plenty for the uninitiated in Scando-folk toenjoy in her second album.
We Become Ourselves kicks off with a terrific double-header – thepercussion-heavy, almost tribal beats of Prayer and Use My Body While It’sStill Young. The former is a slow, stately introduction, while the latterwrithes, tosses and turns, the rhythms, handclaps and drumbeats making fora powerful backbone to Karijord’s terrific voice.
In fact, despite the often complex arrangements on display, it’sKarijord’s vocals that impress the most. Capable of both subtleunderstatement and some glorious, note-stretching exuberance, often in thesame song. It seems brighter and more lively than her previous record, theslightly too sombre The Noble Art Of Letting Go, although there are stillroom for plenty of downbeat ballads.
It’s on those ballads that attention starts to wander though. While thetitle track makes for a welcome break from the frantic nature of Use MyBody, the second half of the album is comprised almost exclusively ofmoody ballads, and a closing trio of You Make Me Real, Ode To What Is Realand Bandages make up a rather sleep-inducing end to the album. Whilethey’re not without their attractions – the multi-tracked vocals workparticularly well – it comes as a disappointingly gentle lull compared tothe start of the record.
When she’s on form though, Karijord sounds terrific. The choirs on theaforementioned Use My Body While It’s Still Young add an epic touch toproceedings, whilst the brilliant Your Love has an urgent, lilting feelthat recalls fellow Swede Lykke Li. The beautiful MulticolouredHummingbird is another highlight, showcasing Karijord’s vocals to its besteffect.
We Become Ourselves is a fine follow-up to Kaijord’s debut album – indeed,at times, it’s absolutely sublime. There’s a lot to admire in thestructure and production on display, and even on the album’s less excitingtracks, there’s always the chance to luxuriate in Karijord’s soothingvocals. She just needs to step up the consistency slightly to produce thattruly great album that is no doubt lurking inside her.