Choose a Bright Morning
Drowned in Sound
K-based music website Drowned in Sound has long attracted a community of the indiest of the indie, ready and waiting to pour limitless scorn on almost anything which more than a few people have heard of. It’s somewhat ironic, then, that its record label offshoot is best known for launching the career of million-selling Britpop revivalists Kaiser Chiefs, a band that most of its users would rather eat their own ears than listen to. Latest signings Jeniferever, post-rockers from Uppsala in Sweden, could almost be penance for this, as singing in English is one of the few concessions that their debut album makes to wider audiences. They almost certainly need have little worry about future success, especially as Sigur Rós already appear to have the market for soundtracking documentaries about the magic of nature sewn up.
Jeniferever’s three preceding EPs often saw the group building rich, textured sounds around simple, personal songwriting. Choose a Bright Morning, composed entirely of new songs, finds the group utilizing this approach well on the angsty, chiming opener “From Across The Sea,” but it’s largely abandoned elsewhere in favour of a lot of very long expanses of instrumental repetition.
Choose a Bright Morning, as a result, moves very slowly indeed. The group’s ever-present keen eye for melody helps to create results that are never less than beautiful, though. “Winter Nights,” for instance, stops dead after a few minutes of barely-there song to begin its stunning, strikingly confident build-up, while the haunting repeated melody of “Alvik” gradually changes from being played on layered guitars to mournful trumpet before finally seeming to drift away entirely on the wind. “Marks” even manages to add a banjo and still retain the same stately grace.
Unlike forbearers such as Mogwai, there is actually very little in the way of noise or catharsis here to offer a contrast to the beauty. Some tension does come at the end of the album as “Magdeleno” (one of only two songs to come in at less than five minutes long) sees a mythical spoken word piece give way to a thumping rhythm and angry clouds of feedback and the fantastic “Opposites Attract” ends with singer Kristofer Jönson finally raising his voice above a whisper for an intense, desperate finale. His strained, wispy vocals and sad, poetic lyrics are all too often buried deep within the mix.
The air of unimposing melancholy that hangs over much of Choose a Bright Morning makes it the type of album that’s totally forgettable. If you give much less than total concentration, several songs can merge into one and pass by without notice. But with a little bit of effort, Choose a Bright Morning will reveal itself as an album filled with rewards.