According to the singer, Lauri, of the Finnish quartet The Rasmus, the album Dead Letters consists of songs that are like a “letter to somebody. It could be an apology, confession or cry out for help.” Remaining members Aki, Eero and Pauli all agree that their music experiments with “raw and naked sounds”. Just hearing the way they describe themselves can make us assume that their music is of a dark, fiery and moody nature.
The band themselves have been together for 10 years and have caused a fuss in their homeland, winning several Finnish Grammy awards. However, they have only recently been discovered in the UK with the release of their latest single, In the Shadows.
After a first impression of a mysterious band, watching the video of In The Shadows is enough to shock the dead. Instead of unearthing a Dimmu Borgir or a Defier tribute band or even a band baring a resemblance to that of HIM, we’re bombarded with a heavy pop sound and a confusion concerning the singer’s gender.
The album commences with the track First Day Of My Life boasting a slamming, metallic guitar riff that momentarily diminishes the image set by In The Shadows. Lyrics such as, “Feel like I’m stoned, wanna be alone, just for a while, unknown,” reveal a more serious, hurt side to the Scandinavian foursome but then mid-song it all changes. A cheesy ’80s Bon Jovi style arena rock bit sets in, leaving the listener bemused and somewhat disappointed that it doesn’t even sound like a good Bon Jovi song.
This is not the only song to follow that pattern. Still Standing (title inspired by Elton John?), Not Like The Other Girls and The One I Love are so ’80s that mental images of the band dressed as Brian Johnson of AC/DC come to mind. Hey, if it works in School of Rock, it could easily happen to The Rasmus.
Music is not the only aspect of this album to be picked up on. “She lives in the clouds, she talks to the birds,” from Not Like The Other Girls makes me wonder whether Lauri’s plea of being stoned in First Day Of My Life should be taken seriously.
Criticisms aside, songs such as In the Shadows and Guilty experiment with the mid ’90s punk-influenced pop genre, containing lots of “Wooooo”s, and “Oh oh oh oh!”s. Time To Burn even sounds like ’90s indie Brits Ocean Colour Scene.
The album ends with the harrowingly named Funeral Song, which displays a popular theme of the album – heartbreak – and the greatest lyrical moment of the album: “I died in my dreams. What’s that supposed to mean?” Nice. Like the rest of the album, this song consists of a catchy chorus but with an innocent truth underlying the song.
Acting more as a diary, Dead Letters boasts honesty in its open lyrics, uncovered by analogy or contradiction. It’s not an album I’d have in my stereo on repeat but it’s not an album that I’d dismiss. First impressions may be everything to some but just let this one grow on you. It’s not life changing but rarely anything is these days. It’s just a shame that it’s one of those albums where the first single release is the best track.