Swedish electropoppers The Sound Of Arrows have been around for a while now, having released their first single Into The Clouds and their debut EP – entitled Danger! – back in 2009. The interest has certainly been there for the pair, composed of Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand, with Into The Clouds being one of the most downloaded singles in the UK the week after its release. Two years later, the duo have finally got round to releasing their debut LP, Voyage. And the curiosity has done anything but waver. The band’s recent single, Magic, notched up over 1,400,000 views on YouTube, showing the demand was still there for the duo’s soaring and emotive electronic sounds.
The album begins with that 2009 single, Into The Clouds, with its dreamy sentiment of escapism and huge soundscape acting as a reminder to those who have forgotten, what exactly this band is all about. The euphoric synth pop that defines The Sound Of Arrows is once again prevalent on Wonders. Another luscious track, with silky vocals that are as comforting as your favourite wooly jumper.
As the album title suggests, Voyage is more of an overall experience than something that can be picked apart; it is easy to immerse yourself in the band’s all-encompassing sound. This is evident during Magic, a song that has been around in demo form since 2008. The duo are incredibly meticulous, and it shows in the finished version, which should only be listened to in tandem with the stunning short-film video.
The video shows two Spanish-speaking siblings awaking to find themselves totally alone in the world and subsequently enjoying their uninhibited freedom with abandon. The song manages to convey the feelings of possibility that the two children experience through its beautiful sonic synths and lifting melody. The duo also utilize the child choir perfectly on the chorus, enveloping the sensation of childhood wonder as they sing the song title in unison.
The album does start to seriously drag around the middle, as the near six-minute epic, Ruins Of Rome, overstays its welcome. The running synths of Longest Ever Dream also fail to reach the heights of the opening tracks, as lyrically, Storm and Gullstrand return to the dreamy sense of escapism captured in Magic. The Sound Of Arrows’ second single – although technically their first proper single – Nova, manages to recapture the fun and energy of the opening tracks without losing the warmth of emotion present throughout the album. It is reminiscent of the Manchester act Delphic, or one of the biggest-selling electronic music acts ever, the Pet Shop Boys.
Conquest recalls the Eurodisco sounds of Erasure, with the stuttering synthesizers giving the song a pulsating heartbeat that makes it one of the more danceable tracks on Voyage. As the album reaches its conclusion, things become a whole lot grander. There Is Still Hope is a seven-minute-plus widescreen of sound, which is destined to be used for the closing credits of a film in the near future. It builds slowly, layer upon layer, starting with a wall of cascading sound, before developing into a full-blown, thumping classic, as Storm’s yearning vocals rise and fall effortlessly.
The closer, Lost City, sees the return of the enchanting melody from Into The Clouds, providing a definitive and poignant conclusion to an album that consistently provokes feelings of wonder, fantasy and nostalgia. The Sound Of Arrows have created an album that, whilst predictable, will ultimately captivate you until the very end. It may have taken the Swedish duo a while to finally complete Voyage, but the subtle details and intricacies of the finished album make the wait entirely worthwhile.