The Deer Tracks are entering crowded waters, as Sweden already boasts some of the best saccharine pop music in the world, including the Radio Dept, The Embassy and Suburban Kids with Biblical Names. While there is always room for one more, these contemporaries offer a calibre most fail to live up to.
The Deer Tracks are the duo of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors. They opt to eschew the straight ahead power pop and approach more ethereal pastures, those mainly obsessed with shoegaze and post-rock. Yet there is a certain suppleness here, a hint of twee, that relates The Deer Tracks back to The Shout Out Louds.
It’s too sickly, too sweet, even, to be weighty enough for either shoegaze or post-rock fans. Yet it’s too dreamlike for straight-laced pop too. What we have is a hybrid of sorts, and a strong debut, albeit one sporting a fair few flaws.
Aurora, possibly titled in an ode to those lovely Northern Lights, ebbs and flows through guzzled guitar lines, playful distortion and disenchanted vocals, recalling everything from M�m to Sigur R�s, Asobi Seksu to West Indian Girl. And In the opening track the duo shine most ebulliently as they let the swashes of sounds broadly stroke their androgynous vocals, recalling more mood than melody to conjure up images of vast, empty and beautiful northern Sweden. It’s more atmospheric than Mazzy Star, per se, but not far off in aesthetic, as vocals are used more to impart a blanketing sense of calm, than purport anything worthwhile lyrically.
And so it goes for much of what follows. Walls of sound crumble upon each other, as melodies wash away into long, drawn out patches of reverb. And in this aesthetic it’s the mood that dominates, from start to finish. I Bite Your Tongue is a six-minute, plinky-plonky exercise in somnambulist pop, while Before The Storm serves as a pathetic fallacy of sorts, much like one would expect all ethereal Icelandic music to sound like. Bicycle spokes, trumpets and kitchen mixers flirt with electronic drums, ending in a sonic sphere warning of a rise in barometry.
But often the mood overrides the melodies; too much so, creating a sound that is, at times, awfully one-dimensional. It’s no bother in most sections, but can result in a sitting where only five songs are digested before a break is required. Either that or you’ll be yearning for a nap.
There’s better Swedish pop out there, but there’s little Swedish pop that’s this out there. That’s a victory in its own right.