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Monday
Mar292010

Efterklang - Magic Chairs

EFTERKLANG - MAGIC CHAIRS

(4AD)

 

It is rare for a band to evolve into producing different types of music. Those who do evolve—take, for instance, Radiohead or the Beatles—tend to begin with a pop aesthetic, and then progress toward more experimental music. Even experimental groups like Autechre began with a more traditional techno feel before moving into a variety of types of experimental music. Danish band Efterklang, however, has taken the reverse route. In their most recent release and third studio album, “Magic Chairs,” Efterklang has abandoned much of the experimental nature of their earlier work and has produced a well-made indie pop-rock album.  

This might come as somewhat of a surprise to Efterklang fans. No doubt many have felt that Efterklang sounds like a different band, and the album does not live up to the promise evident in both “Parades” and “Tripper.” But albums should be judged on their own merits, not on our expectations of what a band ought to do. In my humble opinion, “Magic Chairs” features excellent songwriting and creates a wonderful mood. It is, in fact, a superb leftfield pop album, and Efterklang’s most accessible album to date.  

The best point of the album lies in its excellent songwriting. This is apparent in a number of songs. “Modern Drift,” for instance, is a fabulous opener. It begins with a minimal piano line, and the slowly crescendos to a warm chorus of instrumentation that include strings and a brass section. The shift from “Modern Drift” into the melancholic yet beautiful song “Alike” pulls the listener into the album’s shifting landscapes. In “Raincoats,” hand clapping and throbbing percussion lines build into a head-bobbingly good song.  The soaring strings and precise piano make “Full Moon” perhaps the most engaging song on the album. Owing to this use of violins, “Full Moon” feels like a modern take on more nostalgic funk-based music.  

The album does have a few missteps. At times—with “Modern Drift” and “I Was Playing Drums”—the drum mixing either feels off or they add sounds that detract from the songs’ tenor. Further, other times (especially with the song “Alike”) Efterklang singer Casper Clausen’s singing style felt like a bad copy of U2’s Bono or Coldplay’s Chris Martin.     

These are rather minor issues, though. In all, I am really excited about “Magic Chairs,” which is a fantastic leftfield pop album and Efterklang’s most accessible music to date. I love where Efterklang is taking their music. “Magic Chairs” is shaping up to be one of my favorite albums of 2010. Highly Recommended. 

Jeremy Yellen

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