Review Summary: A painful reminder that everything beautiful dies.
There are few bands that are as aptly named as 'Vi som alskade varandra sa mycket'. Translating as 'we who loved each other so much', their debut full-length illustrates poignantly the unrequited feelings of someone watching their relationship fall away from them as they desperately try to cling onto what remains. The result is a bitter, agonising release, which projects its emotion as much through its delivery as it does through the lyrics.
Entirely in Swedish, most of the lyrics deal with the aforementioned feelings of angst, unrequited love and additionally the difficulties of accepting that nothing remains of 'what once was'. Although these are themes commonly associated with screamo, their poetic quality is what makes them so affecting - a first-person prose used throughout which could easily be the thoughts of the recently alone, scrawled onto a notebook as some cathartic exercise. As a consequence, many of the songs are laced with an undercurrent of self-deprecation, adding further to the air of desperation that surrounds this album.
The music, bright in tone but dark in mood, operates using the quiet-loud aesthetic so frequently seen before in post-rock. High levels of reverb are used through which bleed the notes into one another, creating a beautiful atmosphere which contrasts heavily with the anguished vocals. Whether during a slow quiet introduction or a tremolo-picked verse, none of the music is aggressive, which importantly further enhances the sense of fragility which 'Den sorgligaste musiken i varlden' creates.
However, the highlight of this album is the stunning vocal delivery. Where the lyrics are already maudlin and emotionally charged, vocalist Arvid Ringborg cracks, howls and screams with so much intensity that even to a non-Swedish speaker there can be no question as to what the sentiment lying within the music can be. Despite being by no means a perfect vocal performance, it is (at the risk of sounding too cliched) the imperfections which gives the words such life and context.
Everything sounds tortured, harrowing and most importantly genuine, which is what allows for so much replay value - the reminder that our emotions, no matter how uncomfortable, mean that we are still human and should be held on to if only for that one reason. As 'Vi som alskade...' gear up for a split with 'Khayembii Communique' next year, hopefully there will be more to come after this exceptional debut.