by Matt Juniper
Release: Colossus (2013)
Label: Adrian Recordings
Rating: 3.5 / 5
It has gotten to the point where simply stating a band is from Sweden is enough to get my attention. For a country of its size, Sweden seems to pump out an unusually large amount of music stars that often do music better than any of their peers. Robyn has not once, but twice become an international pop superstar. The Knife consistently alter the course of electronic music. Jens Lekman continues to write some of the best chamber pop out there. And let’s not forget the one-upping coming out of Sweden – MGMT couldn’t even escape 2007 with the best indie electronic tune (the awesome Time to Pretend) without Tough Alliance topping them with ‘Something Special’. And The Tallest Man on Earth is writing freakin’ americana and folk as well as Bob Dylan these days.
So when the first thing I read about MF/MB/ was that they were Swedish and that their lead single off their sophomore album, Casualties was as good as Arcade Fire, I had little doubt. And the track is quite the statement. It is Arcade Fire-esque in its grandeur but also shares the American rock sensibility of a band like the Gaslight Anthem. Along with the Worst Dreams, this is perhaps the most powerful one-two punch on any album yet this year. Further exploration of the album reveals similar comparisons to a wide variety of established artists from Titus Andronicus to The Big Pink to the edgier artists in the DFA roster. Hell, they even sound like Ian Curtis playing electronic punk rock on I Am An Entity.
[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gygsnNEOp_0″ theme=”light”]
But the most important thing is that despite all these comparisons and shape shifting MF/MB/ never sound derivative. The band describes ‘Colossus’ as ‘both self-examination and therapy’ and this sort of introspectiveness comes across as deeply authentic. Colossus is not an album made for anyone else but MF/MB/. In case this was not apparent enough from the music the band spells it out on the chorus of Casualties; “Get with it, this our song baby”. If you’re feeling it, you’re more than welcome to come along for the ride but this album isn’t about you.
It’s all very unapologetically dark music, a rock and roll album from an electronic group that sound like they’ve been through their fair share of pain. Not every track is going to work for everyone. I could personally do without Cocktail Kid or The Chant but I think there is something to appreciate from the way the album works as a whole. Another win for the Swedish music scene, but I am not going to act surprised.