Top 2011 Albums
13. Korallreven - An Album by Korallreven
“It all started on the South Pacific island Samoa some years ago when Marcus was there for a longer vacation and one day, while chillin’ under a coconut tree, got a feeling of how he wanted the pop music of his dreams to be”. I am an avid fan of the dreamlike quality of Swedish pop as it touches upon Balearic music. Aesthetically, Balearic Swedish duo Korallreven sounds like the exact mix of Air France and Radio Dept., with a tropical or cultural edge. The edgy sound of Korallreven may come primarily from Daniel Tjäder, who plays as the Radio Dept.’s keyboardist. The way their music shares so much with Air France is through its inspiration in weightlessness, in the Sun and the light and in impressive soundscapes. An Album by Korallreven is admittedly inspired by leisure; it’s a reliving tale of the sublime feeling of happiness Marcus felt in Samoa.
“As Young As Yesterday” is a six minute long meditation on something that I feel I’ve actually never lived; as a “bedroom dreamer” myself, the song made the whole world feel reachable all the way from my bed. It’s a very important track in An Album because it’s the explicit introduction to “the other side”. It’s layered with weightless synths and samples that tickle the brain through subtle dynamics. However, through the snares, the claps and a horn-like bass, it’s dense enough to capture the immensity of an uplifting pop sensibility.
I remember listening to An Album while laying flat on the floor under my aunt’s Christmas tree. I felt that a dreamlike state of mind took hold of me and I no longer felt the floor beneath. I thought of so many things, An Album evoked the kind of imagery only present in dreams. Julianna Barwick’s hypnotic voice in “Sa Sa Samoa” felt like a gentle breeze under the tree. The keyboards, that reminded me of the isolating feeling of headphones in a bus ride, felt like sunshine burning my skin. “The Truest Faith” is less subtle in employing sounds that would feel someplace else, but the track serves as one of the most immersive moments in An Album as it rolls on again in “A Surf On Endorphins”. Listening to these tracks feels like an audiovisual experience; I see the tides and the sand and the crashing waves luring me into the sea.
An Album is one to lose oneself into, and the thematic elements in each track lift me into a weightless but intense feeling of idleness. “Keep Your Eyes Shut” turns into an imperative and proactive song as Korallreven repeat “keep your eyes shut” and the music aggravates. Before they did so, the track had been subtle, and the mantra was different. Its insistency makes me realize how hard they’ve tried to capture Samoa back again, as if they truly believed that through my eyes shut I’ll feel it too. In “Comin’ Closer”, the jumpy keyboards that drag along the faded out vocals are the closer Korallreven gets to Radio Dept.’s rock influence. The vocal layers, like the ones in “Pago Pago”, instill an electrical journey of quiet but extraordinary tightness. The final comedown in the middle of “Comin’ Down” feels nothing but conclusive and satisfactory.
The context of this album has changed dramatically for me since I started school yesterday, and I simply didn’t know what to make of An Album by Korallreven through this drastic change. But now that I’ve left my days of leisure behind, maybe I feel the same way they felt when Marcus left Samoa. Back in those days, this album felt fluid and encapsulating; now that I feel trapped in school, An Album feels romantic and spiritual. I suddenly feel as young as yesterday: grim days ensue, and an album by Korallreven that serves as my opium.