Envelopes | Demon (Brille)

There’s a feisty energy throughout this record, and the many audible mistakes pass by so quickly you won’t even care. You might care, though, that not many songs have memorable hooks, and that stylistically, the band is, well, quirky.

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It’s a funny thing about quirky bands: they tend to not like the word “quirky” in reviews. So what can a hapless music scribe do when faced with an outfit like Envelopes, five crazy kids who are mostly Swedish (up Malmo way), have a French girl singer, and nearly defy comparisons? If ever the adjective “quirky” were appropriate, it’s for the very odd, cartoonish melange of indie pop-rocks found on Demon, the band’s debut.

But to show that I’m at least trying, here’s a bunch of other words and phrases that could apply to this band: wiggy, shyly gleeful, ticklish, cutesy with teeth, amiable, bright-eyed, nonlinear, boy-girl-friendly, rambunctious puppy-like, lemony-snicket, huggable, ziggy zoggy ziggy zoggy hoy hoy hoy!, unpredictable, meadow-lovin’, mistake-acceptin’, loosey-goosey, hippy-skippy, crispy-crunchy, psychadorable, loopy, energetic, and “underbar känsla, ja?” Well, you get the idea.

Unconventional bands inspire unconventional assessments, and while a detailed analysis would be pointless for the off-kilter exuberance displayed on Demon, the band deserves attention for doing its own thing. OK, so the particulars: Henrik appears on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, followed by Audrey (guitar, vocals), Martin (bass), Filip (drums), and Fredrik (guitar). Audrey stands out whenever she takes lead vocals, due to a girlishly distinctive delivery. On “Audrey in the Country,” the prominent bass line, charmingly simple drumbeat, and weird lyrics about “bees on my street” and “Steve McQueen” prove irresistible, especially with that “shyly gleeful, cutesy with teeth” voice. “Massmouvement” is also, uh, quirky.

Elsewhere, “Sister in Love” sounds uncannily like something off one of Brian Eno’s first two records (the primitive synth throughout, in fact, recalls that era). “Your Fight Is Over” couples the lyrics “Take me in your arms” and “Waiting for my scars to heal” in entertainingly head-scratching fashion with punkish musical backing, and “I Don’t Like It” is one of many songs to feature good ol’ Henrik having fun at this Rock Scandi Mountain thing (“There’s some things in this world that I haven’t heard/I don’t like it”).

Without a doubt, there’s a feisty energy throughout this record, and the many audible mistakes pass by so quickly you won’t even care. You might care, though, that not many songs have memorable hooks, and that stylistically, the band is, well, quirky. But there’s something endearing about Envelopes, and hopefully they’ll stay together long enough to become more disciplined musicians. Here, they rip through 11 tunes in barely half an hour, making little sonic kebabs out of their frisky tunes. A little too skittish to count as a classic, this album nonetheless shows a band willing to, uh, push the envelope with what Eno used to call “idiot energy.” Oh, and by the way, “demon” means “demos” in Swedish. Will Envelopes evolve beyond that level of quality? Svårt att säga…

 

 


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