I’ve never been quite able to pigeonhole Das Body. Is it a post-punk band, an electronic band, a pop band?
But one thing I’m sure of is that if they made the effort to break into the UK and did actually make it here, they’d be a sensation.
They’ve never let me down, from the early singles like ‘Graceland’ (the video for which still adorns our About page), to seeing them live a couple of times at By:Larm in the last few days of freedom before the Wuhan bug closed us all down, to their excellent 2020 debut album ‘Peregrine’, to this latest single, ‘Baby, you know I’m a stranger’.
There’s something of the netherworld about them. Perhaps that comes from their emergence out of the relatively grey east side of Oslo, which isn’t a bad area – in fact it’s better than the poshest areas of Manchester – but one that does carry a certain negative cachet about it locally; as if it has something to prove to the good folk of the gentrified, upmarket western suburbs of Majorstuen, Frogner and Bygdøy.
Well, Das Body is its ambassador.
‘Baby, you know I’m a stranger’ opens with a brief sci-fi or horror movie-like piece of electronic experimentation and had me thinking it might be a section of a score from the Norwegian version of Last Exit from Brooklyn…Last Exit from Brugata. And vocalist Ellie Linden does have an air of Jennifer Jason Leigh about her.
But within seconds it takes on the form of a Polly Scattergood song. If you don’t know Polly, she does dark, whispered ethereal better than anyone on the planet but Ellie gives her a run for her money here. She sounds desperate, almost pleading, engaging in the sort of exchange that might take place on the top floor of a run-down tenement block late at night, over a bottle or two.
It follows the same general direction as several of the songs on ‘Peregrine’; a story set in a difficult but vague environment in which the ‘last exit’ sign is constantly being sought out by the victim.
Then it changes direction entirely into a sophisticated pop/rock song, hung on a sweet synth bass melody. I couldn’t get Arcade Fire’s ‘Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains)’ out of my mind, it channels it so well. And that’s high praise indeed as that track is from a Grammy-winning album.
And then would you believe it the same two hypnotic notes that round off the second half of ‘Graceland’ make a welcome return. They should patent them.
There is undeniably an air of mystique about Das Body. They’ve been around a few years now but their portfolio is still a little thin and they don’t play many shows that I’m aware of. They should be lighting up festivals across Norway. I mean, how were they not at Øya?
They are a sort of guilty pleasure in that you feel guilty for talking about a band that your mates haven’t heard of.
For my money, and pardon me for repeating myself, they are possibly the freshest act to come out of Norway in the last few years and one of these songs is going to be heard one day by an international name that matters in the business.
As for ‘Baby, you know I’m a stranger’ I confidently expect to hear it on UK radio soon and if I don’t I’ll be pissed.
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