Feeling down in the dumps? Need a bit of cheering up? Then don’t come here.
I haven’t heard of a more aptly-named band than Nordic Sad even though the five countries, and especially Sweden, are replete with melancholia. Aren’t they, Lars?This track from their recently (November 25th) released EP, ’Unity’ and which was also their debut single, is the most depressing thing I’ve heard all year.
And yet… (I’ll come to that later).
You can understand why they are so depressed. The band (quote) “has been at it since 2019 but the recordings have been marred by bad luck and curses. The studio has been plundered, hard drives have burned, the pandemic hit hard and put one member on a respirator and another went into rehab.”
And the bad news?
On top of that they’re from Malmö which, justifiably or not, has acquired a reputation for being the place not to be seen in Sweden unless you’ve got air support, with the nation’s highest prevalence of gun crime.
The track, when it was a single, was compared in some quarters to (I like this) David Bowie featuring in a Nick Cave song. That’s the Bowie of ‘Blackstar’, I assume?
As it gets going I thought it might be the Portsmouth Sinfonia warming up until I realised something was being played backwards; a reversed loop. The beat that comes in after 15 seconds isn’t and the two complement each other perfectly.
The singer, I believe it is Viktor Hanning, has a sonorous, deep (and clear) voice – think of Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming – which accompanies perfectly his opening statement, the cheery “I’m in that state of mind/it seems like I will die.”
And it doesn’t lighten up any, either.
But here’s the ‘and yet…’ Around about the half way mark it changes both tone and tempo with minor keys seemingly making a miraculous transformation into major ones. (They probably don’t but that’s what it sounds like). As even more instrumentation is added, along with a heavenly choir which I suspect comes courtesy of a multi-tracked Paulina Rydnemalm and Hanna Söderqvist, it morphs into an anthem of positivity as Viktor yearns not only to survive but to “climb to the sky.”
If you can compartmentalise your depression and put it aside then like me you’ll enjoy this song. Musically, lyrically, sonically, it all comes together rather well.
How to sum up the song? A death metal ballad?
Is the song representative of the EP? In some ways yes but not all. There is plenty of well constructed variety here and one track, ‘Digital Addict’, stood out. There’s more than enough fuzzy guitar to remind me of St Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’ but the track as a whole actually put me in mind of Arcade Fire’s ‘Month of May’, the rocking-est thing they ever did. Mentioning both of those in the same breath as Nordic Sad should, I hope spur them into even greater efforts to survive.
There are national radio DJs in the UK that will play this song and the EP, I’m sure. And regularly. I hope they find one.
Nordic Sad is:
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