Magic Chairs

Written by: DR on 26/01/2011 19:29:44

I'm sure that many of you were wondering where this review was. Don't worry, we (I) haven't forgot about one of Denmark's biggest musical exports, I have just been a little slow getting around to it. To those who know little of this outfit from Copenhagen, "Magic Chairs" is their third offering, after their debut "Tripper" and widely-acclaimed follow-up "Parades", but it's their first on British label 4AD - a home which they share with the likes of Bon Iver, The National and Deerhunter.

The much-praised "Parades" could be hailed as a post-rock album, so in the spirit of progression, Efterklang have decided not to write that album twice, but are now embracing pop more. The classical-orchestration is still present - wonderous at the best of times - but the playful melodies and the quickly-rewarding nature of pop is embraced to a greater degree here, and, as a result, their sound becomes less challenging. However, "less challenging" for a band such as Efterklang is still challenging; their uniquely-colourful construction of songs take a few listens to digest, not least because of how they implement various layers of instruments, each approaching the grand soundscape with a different perspective.

"Modern Drift" absorbs you in within five seconds of listening to the piano that opens this album - you can pratically hear the dancing of the fingers on the keys. Efterklang being Efterklang, slowly they incorporate the Chris Martin-esque vocals of Casper Clausen, the off-kilter drumming, sweeping violins, twinkling guitar-work, booming horn-parts, tapping electronics, and the song gradually heads towards a slightly darker route - the dynamic of the song is completely overthrown, yet not only do they 'get away with it', it is, quite honestly, magical.

Such a great song shouldn't be a stumbling block for an album, but thereafter they fail to emulate that magic; tracks such as "Full Moon" and "Alike" are good, and while few other bands would dare show that level of ambition, they're just not special. At least, not Efterklang special, but maybe we've been spoilt. "Mirror Mirror" pushes six-minutes, during which time they bring awe again, draping the track in soundtrack-ambience, with soaring violin-work building the song up and up, as if heading for a crescendo; they stop, settle down, flaunt more intricate drumming, before switching back to sweeping as if nothing had happened.

Efterklang are one of those intriguing Nordic bands, much like Mew, Sigur Ros and Bjork, who this quartet probably draw influence from, that possess a unique way of going about things, of constructing melodies and "organizing" their songs. Despite the inconsistencies of "Magic Chairs": the occasional song that ranks as decent or forgettable, relatively speaking, at it's peak it is still a record of madness, marvel and magnificence.


Download: Modern Drift, Mirror Mirror
For The Fans of: Mew, Fang Island, Arcade Fire, Jonsi
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 22.02.2010

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