Review Summary: Kent goes back to their melodic sound once again which turns out to be a huge success.
Du & Jag Döden by Kent
Reviewing a Swedish album on this site may not be the brightest of choices I've made in my life. But I just couldn't resist when I had such a "moment" with it earlier this morning. Around 8:30 AM I was on my way to work, only to notice I haven't changed any albums on my mp3-player in about two months and I was sick of listening to the same things day in and day out. I settled for Swedish indie rock/pop favourites latest full length, "Du & Jag Döden" (English translation "You & Me Death") and was hooked once again. This CD comes out ten years after their self-titled debut and much have happened since. It was also released on lead singer and songwriter Joakim Bergs birthday.
I haven't really listened much to them this past year. While I was searing through the suburban Stockholm Martin Sköld's explosive bass intro to "400 Slag" kicks in. It continues with the kicking bass and Markus Mustonen's drums and some occasional guitar slide fills the first 40 seconds of the album before it's tuned down and lead singer Joakim Berg comes in. It's a great album opener, explosive but yet emotional. This first song really sets the standard for the sound on this album. As the name suggests, it's dark and heavy and the sound reminds me heavily of my favourite Kent album, "Isola". Their previous album released in 2002, "Vapen & Ammunition" was more of a pop album while "Isola" had a more atmospheric and alive sound.
The second track is entitled "Du Är Ånga" (English translation "You Are Steam") got a rockier feeling with a sound that can be compared to their debut album. I'm not very fond of this song; I'm not into their rockier stuff and early stuff and would like a little more melodic feeling, something I feel this song lacks. It's upbeat and got a good rhythm but it doesn't really appeal me. Following this is a more melodic track, "Den Döda Vinkeln" (English translation "The Dead Angle") kicking off with an acoustic guitar picking through the intro and the first verse and chorus. After the chorus the tempo goes up and the song goes into a nice little interlude with guitar and piano solos. The vocals on this track are the strongest so far. Joakim Berg can do amazing things with his voice in addition to a great melody. This song has it both. The songs that follows doesn't stand out as much but the second single "Palace & Main" has sort of a history to tell. The lyrics are well written and interesting and it got a heavy and fast pace. The video they shot for this single was of course set in Vegas, where they sent their guitarist Harri Mänty to place a 15000$ bet on black. He won. This was all done authentic and they donated the money they won to charity. Well, the song isn't one of my favourite but it got some sweet lyrics. Like the open lines with "Jag sköt en DJ sent igår" och "och mitt indiehjärta slår och slår och slår" (English translations, "I shot a DJ late last night" & "and my indieheart beats and beats and beats").
Following is the first real acoustic track. It's basically a slow picking acoustic guitar and Joakim's voice. It's called "Järnspöken" (English translation Iron Ghosts) and is somewhat a tribute to their old hometown Eskilstuna. It's not a weak track but it might scare the casual listener away. Any how, Joakim does a great job with his vocals and I really like this song. Following this "Klåparen", (English translation "The Bungler"). It's a soft song and when listening to it I see dimmed lights of different colours fading on and off for some reason. Joakim's voice is mellow and the song features lots of small guitar solo fills by Sami Sirviö that gives the song a great feeling. Following in the same setting is the first single "Max 500". It starts with a riff that sounds most like a xylophone. The whole song is basically written around this riff, it only pauses for a few second in the verses when Joakim is singing and most of the times it just fills the void where they doesn't use any vocals. It's a neat riff and it doesn't get annoying. The chorus is explosive, strong and a real highlight. "Romeo Återvänder Ensam" (English translation "Romeo Returns Alone") is another track that stands out. It fades in with drumming and the vocals come in quite right away. The only thing I can complain about this song is that the lyrics are a little bit too vague and doesn't make much sense at all.
The only real disappointment of the album is "Rosor & Palmblad" (English translation "Roses & Palm Leaves". It is basically a dark piano playing throughout the song and both the lyrics and vocals feels uninspired and the whole song got a sort of "filler-vibe". The ending track though is an amazing mixture of everything good with Kent. It is called "Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (16 År Senare) (Translation "The Man In The White Hat (16 Years Later)" and consists of soft, acoustic and great finger picking which opens the song and plays for about 40 seconds before the rest of the band comes in. Together they build up the intensity in the song and then take it slow again when the vocals come in. It's a long, close to the epic "747" from "Isola". I personally divide the song into three pieces, the soft build-up with acoustic and electric guitar riffs. The middle section with the great vocals and the amazing and strong outro with some incredible lyrics. Too bad I can't translate those good enough into English because they are really top notch written paragraphs and metaphors.
I recommend this album to everyone, not only Swedish listeners. This CD relies a lot on vocal harmonies and instrumentals and this doesn't get ruined even if you don't know the language. Kent's previous albums (except maybe "Isola") have relied very much on Joakim Berg's lyrics, while this one as I said mostly use harmonies as the edge of the songs.
They have with this album proven that they are a bunch of great musicians. Joakim's lyrics are well written as always and their music has grown a lot since their last two albums. Kent has once again proven that they still are the greatest band in Sweden, ten years into their career.
Recommended tracks are:
* 400 Slag
* Max 500
* Den Döda Vinkeln
* Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (16 År Senare).
Overall Rating : 4.5/5