Album Reviews

Teitur – All My Mistakes

(A&G) UK release date: 5 October 2009

Teitur - All My Mistakes With the release of The Singer at the beginning of 2009, Faroese singer songwriter Teitur Lassen made one of the most emotionally redolent and charming albums of 2009.

But while The Singer was Teitur’s first album to see a UK release, it was the fourth of his career, which began with the release of Poetry & Aeroplanes on Universal back in 2003.

All My Mistakes (the name perhaps an ironic reflection of Teitur’s humble persona) is a catch-up compilation for the uninitiated, and selects the prime cuts from Teitur’s back catalogue.

Tracks from The Singer are understandably sparse. It is only The Girl I Don’t Know and the irresistible wonky xylo-pop of Catherine The Waitress which feature. The latter stands proudly in the greatest pop moments of 2009 and remains one of Teitur’s most accessible songs; the plaintive sounds that define his usual musical landscape are pushed aside in favour of a more direct pop aesthetic.

Teitur’s third album, Káta Hornið, which is sung entirely in his native Faroese, is also under-represented. Well, not represented at all. Instead, this compilation focuses on the output of his earlier career, and the preponderance of tracks are lifted from his first two albums, Poetry & Aeroplanes and 2006’s Stay Under The Stars.

The first highlight is Louis Louis, a song penned about Louis Armstrong, a longtime influence on Lassen. With a sugar-sweet verse that swells to an achingly beautiful chorus replete with soaring string melodies, it evidences Teitur’s ability to effortlessly administer something powerfully emotive with playful charisma, skilfully dodging anything trite in the process.

Unfortunately, the evasion of the trite trap is a fleeting glory. You’re The Ocean begins promisingly with a swooning string motif that Elbow would happily deploy, but from that point on it all gets a bit limp-wristed. Parping on about love over a backdrop of easy listening acoustic guitar and strings which attempt to stoke a faux jubilance, it ends up sounding toothless and disappointingly wet.

The haunting lullaby of Josephine, reminiscent of Elliott Smith, provides ample recompense and is a shimmering highlight. As is the menacing air that enshrouds Hitchhiker, which swells to a posturing swagger.

Both Josephine and Hitchhiker exhibit Teitur’s ability to imbue his songs with starkly contrasting moods and emotions. It’s this facility for journeying his listener through uncertain musical backdrops and unexpected musical junctures that makes him such an engaging listen.

I Run The Carousel is another demonstration of why Teitur occupies a higher plane to the generic singer-songwriter staring plaintively into the middle-distance with mind racing to pen poignant couplets. The decadent and fragile verse tiptoes its way to a completely unexpected chorus which steals the verse’s lunch money with a brutish blues swagger. “I run the carousel” whispers Teitur, deadpan. Brilliant.

But if anything, it is The Singer that is the true winner from this album. The contrast in songwriting between his early days and the present is subtle, but important, and it’s fascinating to see the musical journey that led to what is undoubtedly Teitur’s strongest album.

The Singer exhibits a musician who has found a maturity in his sound, a musician who has fully developed the sounds of his musical palette as well as the creative nous to deploy them in ways that are exciting and original.

All My Mistakes, then, is a snapshot of the raw ingredients were always present in Teitur’s songwriting. And while some of his earlier output was more mainstream and less leftfield, there are still fleeting moments of brilliance. Teitur’s songwriting genius was flickering early in his career.

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More on Teitur
Teitur – Let The Dog Drive Home
Teitur @ Bush Hall, London
Teitur – All My Mistakes
Teitur – The Singer