On their lauded 2004 debut, ‘Tripper’, EFTERKLANG took an “If you build it, they will come” approach to pop music. The Danish quintet manicured warm, abstracted orchestrations and nervy electronics and patiently waited for the hooks to arrive; that these hooks sometimes– but only sometimes– did was the album’s great charm. ‘Parades’, the group’s follow-up, incorporates the same elements but marks a sea change in approach and execution: downtempo indie pop ousted for ribald chants, martial percussion, and trumped-up circumstance.
To EFTERKLANG’s credit, ‘Parades’ comes off about as smoothly as a sea change can, inarguably the product of the same band playing with the same toys. The shift towards more boldly defined pop is real, though: ‘Under Giant Trees’, a mini-album released this spring, debuted at the top of the Danish singles chart. Even Trees, though, feels like a halfway post on the path to ‘Parades’. Where the band previously garnered comparisons to SIGUR ROS and RACHEL’s, they now skew closer to the skyward, communal missives of DANIELSON or ARCADE FIRE. EFTERKLANG are less visceral than those bands, though, as they privilege viscous, loopy passages over sustained momentum. EFTERKLANG’s carefully tended electronic touches are more subdued, replaced by increasingly ostentatious horns and strings. Refrains are severed and discarded, verses are obscured by a green film. EFTERKLANG’s five swell to ten and twenty, yell then scatter.
Rallies, then, might’ve been the better title, sharing a parade’s celebration but suggesting intermittent clamor rather than linear pageantry. “Mirador” slides from fevered strut into a monkish quiet before regaining its fortitude. “Caravan” is the recipient of the album’s art-rockiest touch: a boys choir, whose surgical harmonies fly in the face of ‘Parades’ most rhythmically sturdy arrangement. “Cutting Ice to Snow”‘s acoustic jangle and unmolested piano border on quaint, though damn if EFTERKLANG don’t use those album-closing moments as a prelude to one last huzzah. The creeping electric piano and summoning chants of “Frida Found a Friend” offer refreshing dissonance in the middle of the album’s pastel overload. Each song is augmented by indiscernible– and therefore effectively wordless– choruses on which the band repeatedly aims for rapture. ‘Parades’ is nothing if not eventful.
You would think, though, that a band that trades tempos, styles, and moods as often as EFTERKLANG would be a bit more…dynamic? Parades’ recipe– soft verse, big chant, heavenly “aaaaaaaaa”, elliptical, Nordic orchestrations, stir– is clever to avoid repetition but extremely taxing. Must every track aspire to a 12-act epic? The band would’ve done well to pace themselves– “Him Poe Poe”‘s Spartan repetitions and two-minute duration are an example of how EFTERKLANG might’ve eased the pedal more often. Perhaps that’s the point, though– EFTERKLANG spent most of ‘Tripper’ in patient meditation. Tired of waiting for it to come to them, EFTERKLANG unshackle themselves on ‘Parades’, a sober, decisive grasp at grandeur.
For PETER BRODERICK, Portland’s violin and piano-obsessed sound-scaper, 2008 was a landmark year.
A developing MySpace friendship with Danish post-pop quintet EFTERKLANG drew him from his Oregon home to the band’s Scandinavian base in Denmark. Dropping everything, and leaving for Copenhagen at the drop of a hat. Everything suddenly changed once he had joined their ranks.
Swapping his beloved piano and violin for tenderly plucked guitars and delicate percussion, Broderick entered the studio and drenched his sound in the layered vocals that lay at the heart of his beguiling new record ‘Home’ which was released on Bella Union (also home now to the mighty FLEET FOXES).
Fans of EFTERKLANG, SLOWBLOW, SEABEAR, BON IVER, SIGUR ROS or that other Portland songsmith M.WARD – a man who Broderick has worked with in the past – take note.
Featured in MOJO Magazine’s rising in last December and since he’s gone interstellar.
Ticket information: £11 adv / MOTD
On foot: doors on the night / Spillers Records / Cardiff SU box office
IN ASSOCIATION WITH KRUGER MAGAZINE