Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recommended Artist: I Was A King

If you're the type who scours the Internet for the latest and greatest indie bands, chances are you've come across Norwegian pop-rockers I Was A King. But, if you've managed to miss them thus far, I'll be glad to introduce you. The band, led by vocalists Frode Stromstrad and Anne Lise Frokeda, has been around for a few years and generated almost universal critical acclaim for their noisy, catchy pop sound. The quintet's collaborations alone should attract attention, as their self-titled sophomore album includes work with Sufjan Stevens, Danielson, and Ladybug Transistor, among others. However, it's the band's gloriously messy and unique pop presentation that really impresses, making the 31 minutes of their recent record a brief, but fascinating, musical experience.

The album's surprisingly diverse results came as the result of only a three day recording session, and the music definitely has a raw, loose feel to it that I find quite appealing. Pop tunes like "Step Aside" and "Golden Years" have infectious melodies topped with layers of rough guitars, clanging piano, and a host of other instruments that stop just short of 'noise rock,' but still add interesting textures and details to the songs. There's almost too much going on here to keep track of, but it's amazing that the group can fit so many ideas into 15 very short tracks without feeling completely unfocused, and even when they occasionally get a bit obtuse, the music is still fun and frequently great.

Other highlights include "Stay Warm," which opens with some country-tinged strings into a gloriously bouncy, upbeat verse, "California," an appropriately sunny 57 seconds, and "Norman Bleik," perhaps the most fully-formed song here (and one of the longest at almost three minutes), a jangly retro-influenced tune that's instantly likable. It's hard to really pick favorites, though, and I imagine everyone will have their own with so much variety to be found. To get better acquainted, head over to their MySpace page or to my earlier post for a couple downloads from I Was A King.