Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CD Review - David Fridlund: Amaterasu


David Fridlund has made intriguing pop music for years with David & The Citizens, but the time had come for a solo record. From Amazon: "I never planned a solo record, everything I wanted we already did with the Citizens." David says, "But the more people mentioned the solo idea, the more it grew, so when our Swedish booker Jesper Kumberg asked: 'isn't it time for that solo record' it all sort of fell into place." Kumberg has worked with David since early 1999, helping his band to over 200 shows and taken some praise for propelling David and the Citizens to dizzy heights and a Grammy nomination. "But we had run Citizens aground," Says David, "Admittedly; we were close to splitting, and probably would have if the work on this record had not got going." Fridlund may be a pop musician and Swedish, but this doesn’t mean he makes platitudinous fluff like a certain world’s most renowned Swedish group that stalked the Earth in matching disco suits many years before.

Fridlund’s music is piano based, evocative, cerebral pop that will lead you right down the path laid by a group like Belle & Sebastian , but with an element of bombast and unease. Amaterasu, which is the name of the Shinto sun goddess, begins with a burst of static that resolves into ocean spray before Sara Culler’s ethereal voice begins the proceedings on the minimal “Circles” before David joins in halfway through the song. There’s a British music hall bounce to the idiosyncratic “April & May” that will have you humming along. Each song seems to be interconnected in a vague lyrical way, and the music lends a quite mysterious aura to things that is oddly moving. Sufjan Stevens fans would probably like this album very much.

“Busride & Carsick” gets a nice touch of saxophone at the end and features the great line, “back in that small town where stupid is king” - I’ve lived in a stupid small town once and it’s not much fun. The best song on the record is the upbeat “3 Pictures (Of You & You & You) with frantic choruses that are actually sort of reminiscent of Sonic Youth in their Daydream Nation phase. I can just hear Kim Gordon’s breathy voice on those choruses right now. The album ends on a groovy note with some Herb Alpert type horns during the last measures of “The Past Floats Like Stones” for a tripping 60’s feel.

The emphasis on piano sometimes puts the image of a hipster Bruce Hornsby, but David Fridlund doesn’t need any goofball comparisons from me. He’s an extremely talented guy whose musical career should continue to attract accolades for years to come. Amaterasu is a pop prize that comes out in early May on Hidden Agenda Records.

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