The Minds Of 99


Written by: TL on 12/11/2015 14:12:40

Considering how notoriously difficult the Danish language is to understand, and how common it is to have at least a decent grasp of English here, most Danish bands opt to write their lyrics in English. It makes sense: You hope at best to grow your band big, so why limit your potential fanbase to consist of citizens of a very small country, when music so often transcends borders in its appeal? Logical or not, however, some bands still swear to the mother tongue for their own reasons, and one group that has gotten considerable momentum in the last couple of years by doing so is Copenhagen's The Minds Of 99. A band that has built a solid following and gotten nominated for a number of rock-related awards, despite the fact that most usage of guitar in their post-punk soundscapes is so drenched in effects that you'd be excused for thinking of them mainly as an electronic act.

In the borderlands between post-punk, 80's sounding new-wave and dark electro, 'Minds have managed to build a quite distinct sound, however, which figures as the main foundation of their success. Things like siren sounds, staccato key signatures and swooning synths swirl around small, spiralling guitar patterns, on top of beats that often race ahead with quick, danceable EDM momentum. And in front vocalist Niels Brandt muses in poetic phrases, at one moment with dark, dispassionate tones and the next with passionate, nasal croons that bring Brett Anderson (of Suede) to mind. Incidentally, he shares the Brandt name with Steffen Brandt, of Danish electro-pop/rock veterans Tv-2, whom Minds of 99 compare easily to and could be called a modern successor to.

The band's sharply defined identity is perhaps their greatest asset, with the energetic drumming and otherwise extremely atmospheric instrumentation doing great at building an immersive and characteristic musical universe, and with Brandt's lyrical style striking a fine balance between relatable big city life and more existential considerations and metaphors. Through him, 'Minds come off as young guys seeking escape from the everyday routine in the Copenhagen nightlife, yet also spending time in their own headspace, dreaming and reflecting critically on modern existence. This all holds true whether you listen to last year's "The Minds Of 99" or this year's new "Liber". In likely recognition of the sudden surge in interest around them, the band has forged while the proverbial iron was hot and crafted a sophomore that picks up pretty much where the debut left off, and is thus characterised by similar impressions of strengths and weaknesses.

For a second album in a row, the band remains at its best in the songs where their lyrics are most visual. New songs like "Stjerner På Himlen" and "Ud Af Min Krop" join older ones like "Det Er Knud Som Er Død" and "Rav" as some of the most memorable the band has written. The first channels the restlessness you no doubt recognise unless you are one of the lucky few that feel like they have found their "shelf" in life: Brandt is weary with being caught on the ladder of education and career - "Sedated with words like future" - and encourages the listener to do something now; be something now. And later on the record, the dark anthem of "Ud Af Min Krop" juxtaposes nightly acts of escapism with dreams of picking up and travelling away to palm-framed horizons, grasping at the idea of a freer way of life, where dreams of escaping would not be necessary, and where feeling happy isn't something we continually put off for later.

In "Ud Af Min Krop" - despite it being one of the band's slower songs, which blooms in a quite straightforward way musically - the band may yet have written a song for the ages; one you can imagine figuring in the Danish songbooks, being sung solemnly by boarding school students for generations to come. Time will tell if that's the case, but if so, that is some achievement. A song like that has a sense of gravity to it, however, which contrasts more lightweight songs like "Ma Cherie Bon Bon", which - although admittedly catchy as f*** - is hardly a song that hits you with the same feeling of relatability. You enjoy it and sing along, but will you feel inspired to put it on again later? Here, its "out and dancing" counterpart from the former album, "Hurtige Hænder" arguably still stands stronger, simply because the lyrics were better at conjuring images - dreamy and romantic images of dancing with someone desirable and wanting to stretch that moment forever.

If there are some overall points to be made about "Liber" then, they would in short be as follows: The Minds Of 99 have picked up right where they left with their debut, which means old listeners should find more to like, while new listeners can use either album as good ways to get into the band. Regardless of which you choose, the best songs come when the lyrics paint neon-lit images on your imaginary celluloid, while others, like "Ma Cherie Bon Bon" and "Familie" feel a little more superficial. Yet Minds Of 99 remain contagious and danceable even at their worst, and at their best they flash a strong identity that has the potential to make them a Danish household name for years to come.

Download: Ud Af Min Krop, En Fremmed, Stjerner På Himlen
For The Fans Of: Tv-2, Suede, The Cure, Joy Division, Reptile Youth, No Devotion

Release date 16.10.2015

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