Mikkel Schack Band

...About To Destroy Something Beautiful

Written by: PP on 27/08/2007 02:08:17

"Dark Pop". Now that's an interesting genre description, and not one I've been familiar with beforehand. Nevertheless, it is the term Denmark's Mikkel Schack Band uses to describe the sound of their debut album "...About To Destroy Something Beautiful". It is rather fitting if you ask me, although I'd be willing to throw the word 'pop' straight out the window. As we all know, pop music is usually recyclable crap filled with obvious choruses and surface-level depth, where talent isn't nearly as important as looking good and hiring a good song writer. None of these fit the description of Mikkel Schack Band. Their debut album is versatile, featuring a variety of styles ranging from the entirely acoustic to the heavier riff-based songs, all drowned in a level of depth and restrained passion you can't possibly describe in words. The choruses are there, and they are reasonably catchy, but never to the point where you'd feel they wouldn't be convincing, intriguing or a combination of the both. Radio airplay? Forget it, these songs are far too deep for anyone who listens to the radio to understand.

The key to Mikkel Schack Band's 'Dark Pop' are the lyrics. This is also why the press-package I received contains an A4 sheet with all the lyrics printed onto it, as if to emphasize their importance, and rightly so. They are brilliant short stories about different aspects of life, whether it's about how you should take life as it is or about your career that just doesn't seem to progress. They are often somewhat cryptic, and the messages are hid well between the lines, but with enough listening you'll see a whole another dimension opening up in their music. They are like little poems, which everyone can interpret in their own way, if you will.

But for a lot of people, lyrics are simply an addition on top of the instruments. "...About To Destroy".. doesn't leave you behind musically either. "Doing Time" opens the album with silent guitar plucking, matching perfectly Mikkel's calm voice. By the chorus, the song has changed in pace and volume, but most focus is still placed on the vocal melody telling the story. And it works great.

It would be a somewhat weird choice to place such a slow and quiet opener as the first track of your debut normally, but here it works in their advantage. Its atmosphere is so deep that it helps set the proper context for "As Good As It Gets" and its slightly faded verse vocals. It's as if the band wanted to say 'guys, there's more to it than just the music', as many would simply dismiss the song as a slower and a more quiet Foo Fighters song. The soundscape isn't very wide and the instruments are simple, but yet there is so much depth in the atmosphere, making it feel like the guitars surround you from every direction. It's also probably the catchiest song on the album. The chorus emits an uplifting vibe, and simply repeats 'this might be..as good as it gets' over and over again, emphasizing the whole 'live your life like today is the best day of your life' philosophy that the entire album promotes. In my interpretation at least.

While we're onto the topic of atmosphere, I must point "Getting Older?" as my favorite track on the album. It's a slow song, starting out with a melodic hook, but it is so full of feeling it's hard to describe it in a review. I would imagine its atmosphere matches perfectly the kind of feeling people having mid-life crisis might experience. And again, the lyrics shine: Mikkel sings "Do you ever take a good look over your shoulder?" in a soft, sentimental voice, making at least myself pause for a minute and really think about all the things that I've left behind that were once important to me.

And this is the kind of thing the band is great at. They have some kind of inconceivable ability to wire their music straight to your feelings, to alter your mood and to make you think about things a bit more than you normally would. It is the album's absolute strength, and the main ingredient that all songs rely on.

As you might have guessed already, the album wouldn't be very special without the extra depth added by the passionate and intelligent lyrics. "Treadmill" has some nice grungy guitars, and "Nothing" is a fine hard rock track reminiscent to bands like Seether and Smile Empty Soul, but the instrumentals alone don't lift Mikkel Schack Band to the status I want to give it. I can't stress it enough: the lyrical world is so important to how well you will perceive this album, so don't ignore it. But even if the lyrics don't matter to you, you should check it out if you like the more mellow side of Foo Fighters, because the band knows how to play their alternative rock.

Download: Getting Older?, As Good As It Gets
For the fans of: Foo Fighters, Seether, Smile Empty Soul, Audioslave
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.09.2007
Trechoma Records

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