My faithful travelling companion once told me about a review of a Stina Nordenstam album describing her music as "Nordic bleakness". He subsequently bought her CD during our Swedish holiday this year and it turned out that she wasn’t that bleak after all. The same description could arguably apply to Sweden’s biggest rock band, Kent, whose typical and uniquely Swedish style may not be to everyone’s taste. They have been going for many years and are still both critically and commercially successful. Think a kind of Swedish equivalent of Coldplay or Radiohead.
"Tillbaka Till Samtiden" however is less bleak than you’d imagine, and brings a bit of electronica into the mix. "Elefanter" kicks off the album slowly building into a pumping atmospheric anthem. "Berlin" is my favourite track, with Mr Berg’s distinctive voice over and electro-rock background, this track really defines their new sound. "Ingenting" didn’t take long to be loved at EuropeCrazy HQ and is arguably one of the most catchy, accessible songs they’ve ever made, yet with surprisingly angry lyrics. (Not sure about the choice of "Columbus" as the follow-up as it is more deserving of the ‘bleak’ tag).
On the whole, "Tillbaka" stands up as yet another high quality album from a band who are sounding stronger than ever. "Ensammast I Sverige" is the album’s epic closer, over eight minutes long. Listening to Kent, I wish I knew more Swedish as their songs have a great lyrical quality.
Nordic bleakness? Well admittedly it’s as far removed from Lucky Twice as you’ll get, but "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" is certainly not bleak - far from it.