Album Reviews

Madrugada – Grit

(Jamil Ahmad) UK release date: 1 March 2004


As far as mainland Europe is concerned,Stockholm has been the lauded rock ‘n’ roll epicentre of recent times.Occasionally a band would slip out of the harvest from the farm fields ofEuro pop and start to makes waves in a more westerly direction – TheRaveonettes most recently.

Previously hidden at the furthest tip north in Norway (Stokmarknes to be precise), a new gasoline-fuelled rock ‘n’ roll torch is about to be set off, blazing in a trail following its bearers: Madrugada with their third, and surely breakthrough, album Grit.

Recorded in Berlin with PJ Harvey producerHead, the album builds on Madruduga’s earlier efforts which saw them persuade400,000 people to cough up their euros.

Imagine a red lit ricketty bar in a nowhere town ofAmerica’s Midwest, with leather-clad, spirit-guzzling desert caricatures.The bone white, bone thin, black-dressed band playing in the background wouldbe Madrugada. As guitarist Robert Bur�s admits, growing up in a valley with160 people leaves you plenty of time to discover guitar players.

With seclusion amongst the Northern Lights, it’s as if depressing longwinter nights soaked up The Velvet Underground, The Stooges andThe Cramps in a marriage with singer Sivert H�yem’s awesome whisky-doused Iggy Pop / Mark Lanegan / Dave Wyndorf / Nick Cave vocals,creating one of the most original stoner psychedelic sounds.

Let’s zoom straight to track eight, Hands Up I LoveYou, because it descends so beautifully, and is simply one of the best songsyou’ll ever hear. H�yem’s sullen Lou Reed-esque spoken word drapes over aroad tripping psychedelic ballad. It screams next single but serves betteras an album treasure.

But let’s not discount the seven preceding numbers.Blues-y opener Bloodshot Adult Commitment gets things off at the perfectpace, sounding like a youthful Monster Magnet. Critic f**k you Readyis a garage rock stomper, with H�yem lashing about like Iggy on quaaludesand coke in 1969, while I Don’t Fit sloshes in a broody buzzed ballad orgy ofechoing drums, slow burned solos and again, H�yem’s decadent tonsilwork.

“Madrugada” translates from the Spanish as “the hour before sunrise” and the music is fitting. Although choosing Majesty as thefirst single seems an odd choice (a snow-tipped Nick Cave serenade on arecord bleeding garage rock floor), by Belladonna, the penultimate gargantua of a song, you’re lefttripping on H�yem’s intense but doped vocals.

What a band… What an album…


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More on Madrugada
Interview: Madrugada
Madrugada – Grit