I well remember my introduction to Nicolay Løvvold earlier this year and his song ‘Latika’ about a man who covets a girl he can’t have, persists in pursuing her with completely the wrong ideas and, no surprise, it doesn’t end well. And all to an industrial metal musical framework punctuated with prog rock intermissions. To be honest I’d never heard anything like it.
Now he’s back, with an album, ‘Grey’, the title of which isn’t enticing but he seems to thrive on confusing his audience.
He says he started planning the album three years ago, after moving with his family to northern Norway where “the raw and extreme environment got to me, something which is fiercely reflected in my songs; that’s right; it’s going to get hard and unforgiving!” Oh dear.
In the beginning, he set out to create a concept album with songs about love, but not in the traditional way as he feels we’ve got enough of those already (agreed), so he chose to do something different and started writing songs in every twisted and incorrect way that he could. Oh dear again.
I wish everyone provided such comprehensive background as Nicolay does. He’s written a little précis, a paragraph on each song. They include subjects such as Helen of Troy, a siren (as I ventured that Latika was), dreams about sex, the night, and hollow relationships. At least one of them deals with a subject that might “offend our values”, a phrase I sometimes see on my social media feed.
I feel like I’m selling him short with only one review track.
But at least those paragraphs offered me a better opportunity to make a choice and I noticed that there are two tracks with the same title as songs by Anna Calvi, who is in essence a female version of Nicolay, namely ‘Desire’ and ‘Hunter.’ (Actually in his case ‘Desire 2.0’ but that makes it better still).
The song ‘Hunter’ “concerns the interactions between a predator and its prey. It’s meant as a metaphor for how those that are cautious, timid or just nice always seem to finish last.” Or ‘shy bairns get nowt’ as we say in these parts, a tried and trusted idiom.
It’s raw and guttural yet melodious, with the snap of the stick on the snare drum like a slap in the face and delivered with the Ian Anderson-like vocal affectation that I’ve clocked previously and some terrific instrumental and vocal overlays. (On some of the other tracks, especially ‘The Night’ he sounds even more like Anderson).
Excuse me now while I retire to listen to the rest of the album, properly. If this is what moving to northern Norway does for you I’ll have to consider retiring there.
I can’t help but think how well this would go down on Johnnie Walker’s BBC Radio 2 Rock Show on Friday nights. Get onto it Nicolay!
While it isn’t a full album review, on the strength of one hearing I’ll give it…
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