Young You is available at:
13th June 2016
JUST today I have managed to make a few decisions and experience a lot of…
different music. This morning, I started things off with a look at Jimmy and the Mustangs’ track, Cherry Bomb. A melting of Rockabilly swing and current Blues: a song that has left an impression and introduced me to a terrific U.S. band. A couple of hours later I get to dig into a Norwegian summer-ready band who differ completely. Music’ mystical unexpectedness and vast arrays continue to produce incredible artists. Before I come to the Bergen band; I wanted to look at Norwegian and Scandinavian acts; being ready for summer and what is to come; the way this year is shaping up (in terms of great new sounds). It has been a while since I visited Norway- a few years ago was the last review- and am very familiar with the artists coming from there. In the past, I have investigated Danish and Swedish artists: they have a different way of working and way of life; personalities that explode from the page and intrigue the listener. When we think of Norway and music our minds instantly race to Black-Metal and Thrash: heavier music that projects images of face-painted men and scream-a-thon tracks.
Whilst that is a part of the country- Sweden has a big Metal economy, too- Norway is a lot more deep and varied than you’d think. Consider Bergen and you everyone from Edvard Grieg, Kings of Convenience and God Seed hail from here- three very distinct and unconnected acts. Kings of Convenience, in fact, are one of my favourite acts from the last couple of decades. I love their gentle Acoustic Folk and gorgeous harmonies: how they can transport the listener somewhere beautiful and riparian. Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe are the brains behind Kings of Convenience: they take you around the west coast principality; across the fjords, mountains, and cityscape- so many different sights and scenes for the listener to enjoy. Those not keen on the ‘acquired’ taste of Dimmu Borgir, Gorgoroth and Enslaved have plenty of gentler, more accessible options. Röyksopp is one of Norway’s most-celebrated acts. The Electronica/Trip-Hop duo provide emotionally resonant and maudlin songs: tracks that have a sorrow but never drag you down. They are reflective tracks and balance whimsy and emotional intellect. With Sweden producing so many tremendous Electro.-Pop artists- those that can bring sunshine and warmth into music- Norway is not exactly second-fiddle. Aurora’s dreamy Pop and Awill’s lo-fi-set rapping are setting the nation alight: Emilie Nicolas and Comet Kid are names to watch. The latter is a band who write heartfelt, catchy songs. Mixing Soul, Blues, and Pop: they are a band that has an international future. Nicolas has a warm, entrancing voice that has resonated with fans and critics in Norway.
Farao and Highasakatie are national favourites that provide contradictions and variation. Sparse, hollow moments lead to rich, dramatic highs. Kid Astray’s catchy Pop and Samsaya’s infectious India-Swedish mashing (she hails from India) are garnering serious attention and praise (thanks to website Highsnobiety for recommendations). KMF- or Kakkmaddafakka (a tenner for anyone who can pronounce that first time!)- are one of Norway’s finest exports. Before I plod on; let me introduce KMF to you:
Axel Vindenes – Guitar and Vocals
Pål Vindenes – Cello and Vocals
Stian Sævig – Bass and Vocals
Kristoffer van der Pas – Drums
Sebastian Emin Kittelsen –Piano
Lars Helmik Raaheim-Olsen-Choir / Percussion
“The band hail from the beautiful city of Bergen, where they have grown from a small local group to an internationally recognised act. Their Facebook band page currently has over 150, 000 likes.
Having toured all over the world, KMF regularly play to 5000 fans at their own club shows across the continent and have appeared at and headlined stages at renowned festivals such as Melt! Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, Arenal Sound in Spain and Hurricane Festival. With support constantly coming their way, they seem destined to continue onwards and upwards and are not likely to stop until their out the stratosphere
The group proclaim themselves to be ‘sauna extremists’, having gone so far as to perform naked in a sauna once on Norwegian national news!
Amongst sauna-extremism, the band’s other hobbies include football, gaming and Djing (two of the members Axel and Pål run a popular club concept ‘Klubben’ and a hip hop night in Bergen – proof of a band with eclectic musical tastes).
On May 31st the band will be playing an exclusive UK show at the prestige O2 Academy Islington.
‘Young You’ is out June 13th and is set to appear on the group’s upcoming self-titled album KMF set for release July 3rd”.
The guys have been playing since 2004 and are growing in stature and potential. Their social media numbers and accolades speak for themselves. The fact they have amassed vital festival dates and support/headline slots: the band is going nowhere any time soon. Their eponymous album is released on July 3rd and will include the new single, Young You. The band is capable of enthralling muddy festival-goers and getting bodies jumping- helpless to resist the lure and power of the songs they hear. When needed, the boys can tone it down and lead you somewhere comforting and nature-set- a safe place you can rest your head. The summer is coming- apparently so- and the sun will come out at some point. I am not sure what the weather is like in Bergen today: here (London-way) is a typically cloud-strewn, rain-lashed day. When summer finally does rock up: we need to discover musicians that soundtrack that weather. Today- a juxtaposition and odd synchronicity- is seeing me listening to Dizzee Rascal and watching Made in Chelsea (don’t judge me; it’s an illness!). The fast-flow, slick raps (of Rascal) and authoritative performances have summer written all over there.
Fire-cracking slammers like Fix Up, Look Sharp– complete with industrial beats, awesome samples, and endless swagger- are backed with instantly memorable tracks and intelligent, near-genius lyrics. The Made in Chelsea gang- idiots and nauseating as they- are always decked in sunshine and expense; there is something compelling about the whole thing. Weird as my listening/viewing clash is: it gets me thinking about warmer days and the city. I know a few people in music/P.R.- D.J.s and promoters- who are enjoying city breaks and taking their music across the world. KMF are already primed for the hotter months: they latest offering is an instant tune that gets the head spinning and the arms pumped. The guys seem eternally cheery and optimistic: a band that makes you smile; whose music does thing rather wonderful to the soul. This year has seen wonderful albums from the likes of Paul Simon; fantastic tracks from The Avalanches, De La Soul and The Stone Roses. Things are hotting-up and some of this year’s finest achievements are being crafted. KMF are a band who could rub shoulders- in terms of quality- with legends like Simon and De La Soul.
Over the past few years; KMF have released the albums Down to Earth (2007), Hest (2011) and Six Months is a Long Time (2013): five singles have been spawned (including their latest) and has keep the quality level high from the very start. Previous tracks like Your Girl– from the album Hest– boasts catchy chorus lines and an eye-catching video (lots of in-love couples kissing). It is one of those festivals tunes that is simple and effective: a song you can sing along to and lose yourself in. The song’s lyrics of confusion, sleeplessness and caution are balanced with a glistening, effervescent vocal and composition. Restless (from the same album) is a racing, stuttering track that has such attack and drive. The feather-light guitars are frantic and spirited. The band- who creates another evocative video- put in a stellar performance. A modern-sounding track- that could fit into this year’s sounds- shows how ahead and intuitive the band is. Between Down to Earth and Hest: the songs become stronger and distinct; the performances tighter and emotive.
This qualitative leap reappeared on Six Months is a Long Time– it goes into their eponymous album. To be fair, the boys were astonishing and complete from their debut. Subsequent albums did not need leaps and vast improvements. The changes and developments are small ones. Songs are tighter and more disciplined. The sense of nuance grows and the confidence has climbed. The songwriting itself is more wide-ranging and the instrumentations show more depth and difference- never becoming wayward, unfocused and generic. It is the consistencies- rather than the changes- that impress me most about KMF. The band is one of the most reliable and dependable in all of music. With each album, you do not get weak moments and filler songs. KMF is their most eclectic and revelatory album to date. For a group that enjoys gaming, football and D.J. nights- two of the band members perform at a Hip-Hop night in Bergen- it is not a surprise their music reflects this eclecticism. I know blogs and reviewers will be lining up to sum the album up and see how the music has evolved. It is an exciting time for the Norwegian band. They are in inspired form and have taken influence from different countries and cultures. Mixing love songs with personal investigation: the songs balance bright and brash with restrained and tender. This inspiration feeds into their latest single, Young You.
Racing piano notes- almost evoking the sound of ‘80s/’90s club floor-fillers- get Young You off to a galloping, light-hearted start. The piano has a vibrancy and richness that contains romance, soul and vibrancy. It is the energy and catchiness that builds and grows: the introduction blossoms and bubbles; you cannot escape its sparkle and exuberance. The initial words are a paen to a girl: someone who has caused a stir and acting as a life raft. Our hero recalls when they first met. He was blown off his feet and amazed by her beauty and presence. His “something new”; a person that came along at the right time. There are arguments, doubts, and tears- in a night or two she’ll be fine; the tears will dry- there is that defiance and expectation. The couple was going to prove them all wrong- perhaps their naturalness and compatibility have been met with dubious sighs- and you can feel that rebellion and stubbornness. Lying on the grass in the park “all day long” is an idyllic scene that is a perfect romantic vision: something that seems less tangible as time goes on. Perhaps a rift or passage of time has put a strain on the relationship. You get the impression the lovers are apart and need to sort things out. Perhaps other people’s input and negative reactions have taken their toll; damaged something that was pure and strong. Our hero has optimism things will work out and everything will right itself. There is a detached, almost nonchalant, demeanour to the early vocals. The girl is crying but she’ll be fine soon enough: it is delivered matter-of-fact rather than sensitively. You forgive these oversites as there is purity and compassion in the voice: you know how much his girl means and how he wants their love to survive.
The composition is a light and breezy. Supporting the reverb-heavy vocals and creating a perfect summer backdrop: you imagine yourself under a tree by the river; watching people go by in the heat of the afternoon. Groovy bass and precise percussion ensure there is that commingling of tight and loose: the song is never tense nor is it bleary. The Shakespearian, Romeo and Juliet-esque bond start to grow as the evening draws in. After the afternoon lazing and dreaming: the sweethearts sojourn to a club where they can dance away their troubles. Doing things many would “consider wrong”- your imagination will have its own limitations of what that involves- there is youthful recklessness and frivolity. Against the doubting tongues and naysayers: they are embracing their passion and living whilst they are young. It is mysterious why the relationship has met with such disapproval. It is clear the two have overcome hurdles and faced conflict- with others and themselves. Stronger together than apart: you are drawn into their movements and are walking along with them. “Watch the sunrise from the rooftop” is a line that very easily leads you to imagine and envision. Underneath the perfect images and scenarios, there is that teary-eyed coda. The heroine will be fine in a night or two- she’s crying but it is never explained why- and you wonder what has occurred. That is when the title starts to show a malevolent undercurrent. Young You leads me to think about two different girls: the new flame is a younger version of a former love. The forgotten ex-girlfriend is wiping away the tears whilst the new girl- more agile, fresh and desired- is gaining the spoils of war. It is a cynical approach but everyone will have their own interpretation of events. Whatever the circumstances of the song you forget about it and get caught in the beautiful vocals and composition. That central performance has heart and passion: such is the projection and accentuation; every line is brought to life and given a distinct spin. The bouncy, upbeat backdrop sees jubilant piano and punchy beats spring into life. It is the piano which steals focus at the half-way mark. Again, recalling the likes of Black Box- a little Ride of Time comes into the mix- you are transported back to the ‘90s Dance scene.
A needed break- giving people a chance to collect their thoughts and put the pieces together- the compositional break has its own merit and gravity. That glorious, strident piano line transports your mind across the oceans- at this point in the music video; we see a plane soar against a sunset sky. “Young you/I’m leaving you/in a year with a stranger” (apologies if I have misquoted) throws up more possibilities and ideas. What do those words mean? Part of me was thinking of two girls and new love: a newer version of an old girlfriend. As new lines come through; perhaps there is something less obvious at heart. Whatever the true nature and reality of the lyrics: you cannot deny how well-crafted and unique they are. Few bands have such a way with words. Every sentiment seems obvious but then you doubt yourself: change your mind and have different opinions. Our hero is crying tonight- leaving no room for ambiguity- and will be fine in “a year or two”. Heartbroken and affected- more so than his girl, it seems- that defeat and crushing blow is never brought into the vocal. The lead keeps things buoyant and above-the-surface: never allowing his inner-demons and anger to come out. A wounded soul that is making sense of things- perhaps unable to reconcile what has happened- yet more mystery comes in. KMF are masters when it comes to complex/obvious lyrics; easy and light compositions- the combination is hugely evocative. Young You continues where Six Months is a Long Time leaves off- the three-year break has not seen any lack of quality- and is, perhaps, their most instant track ever. That is no small part because of the composition which continues to yield gold and emotion.
That Ride on Time-piano dance has energy, youth, and rapture; the bass is teasing, swooning and grooving- the percussion keeps firm and ensures discipline remains in the song. The final minute sees the instrumentation exploited and fostered. Yearning, aching guitar and rampant piano take us into the night. By the close, one wonders how things worked out for both parties. Heavy emotions are being traded and explored: the exact origins and realities are open for debate. After mentioning Made in Chelsea– not as derisively as you’d think- Young You seems like a song that could soundtrack a scene. A typical M.i.C. set-up: two ‘lovers’ revealing a misadvised kiss; a tense conversation unfolds before one storms off- the other is left looking on pensively. Maybe that would cheapen KMF’s music but my point remains: their music has that popular edge that is going to be snapped-up by T.V. shows and radio. Young You boasts one of the best outros. I have heard in many years. On its own merit is could exist: extend it for several minutes and you’d have a club jam on your hands. The third track from their self-titled album: Young You shows just how mature and accomplished the Norwegian band is. Few acts- regardless of how long they’ve been together- create songs as universal and loveable as this. A catchy, play-it-until-it-loses-all-meaning song that is going to be the soundtrack for the summer.
Since their debut album Down to Earth: the band has been working hard and ensuring they are in the public consciousness. Not just confined to Norway’s audiences and press: the guys have a huge international reputation and have toured around the globe. Last month, the chaps played O2 Academy Islington– a gig that was very well-received and introduced them to a lot of new, British fans. I hope the band comes back to England when it gets a bit sunnier. I can see them effortlessly slotting into the festival rotation. In the huge parks and on the big stages: their brand of music is likely to get the audiences unified in ecstatic dance; capable of bringing sunshine where there is rain. I looked at a few Norwegian acts in the first half of this review. Truls’ high falsetto, hook-laden, Electro.-Pop beauty has already won the nation’s heart. Mr. Little Dreams is another stunning Norwegian singer (although Mr. Little Dream’s heroine has relocated to California). The nation has been producing game-changing artists for a long time. The new wave of young, talented artists- from Electro.-Pop to Folk and Indie- are rivalling the best the U.K. and U.S. have to offer.
I have always loved Swedish music- and reviewed a lot of acts there- and Norway should not be overlooked. Perhaps dispelling the clichés we associate with the nation- the Heavy-Metal acts and harsh sounds- there are so many elliptical, summer-tinged artists poking through. Songs that have an alacrity and anthemic quality- able to get festivals enflamed- are making their way to Britain. It has been great assessing KMF and I will follow them with eagerness and scrutiny. It is difficult paying close attention to every country with regards music. The media do their best to promote openness and disclosure: not just sticking with homegrown acts and chart sounds. I am in a rarified position- a reviewer who gets sent all sorts of acts- but more people are starting to look beyond British borders. Our music scene is fantastic but it is always wise to embrace other nations and what they are producing ensuring our tastes are not homogenised and rigid. If you have always considered Norway a minor player on the music world’s stage: you might need to think again and reassess that viewpoint. Young You is a sumptuous taster from their new album. The group has always commanded respect and is synonymous with their consistency, quality, and stunning songs. Every new album from KMF brings something new and daring. Their self-titled L.P. is their most confident and anticipated. Legions of new fans will be eager to see what they can come up with- they will not be disappointed, for sure. Early buzz is talking about the record is heated and fevered tones. Young You is a typical example of what to expect. The group do show variation- more introverted moments among the high-energy songs- but show what a proposition they are. Perhaps the British mainstream has not fully embraced them: that has got to change with their new album. Their festival-ready, radio-primed music pushes nobody away and takes no prisoners: tracks that urge you to get moving and involved. The band have just come back from a tour of Europe- taking in Spain, Switzerland, and Britain into their itinerary- and will be back on the road before too long.
When the L.P. is released; the demand will be there and they are going to have a very busy summer. The sun is absent from London- and U.K. in general- and many are seeking something warm, enriching and flavoursome. KMF provoke so many different emotions it is hard to take it all in. You cannot listen to one of their songs and be in a bad mood- it should be prescribed as medication; it’s that powerful! As my afternoon ticks away- Dizzee Rascal’s music still spinning; Made in Chelsea’s stars bemoaning failed relations and cheating ‘friends’- it is great having Young You at the forefront. I will grab their album when it is out and know it will be met with passion and praise. Their three previous albums have shown they’re a band that is adaptable and ever-changing. Whilst you get that reliable concoction of positive sunshine and more reflective tracks: the band keeps growing stronger and more confident as they go along. It is hardly surprising they are so convincing and urgent given the amount of tour dates they have accrued. We look forward to the summer months and what the band will be doing. Of course, more tour dates will come but where will that take them? I am not sure how widespread their name is in the U.S. It seems like KMF could easily fit into L.A. and New York. Both cities have vibrant, multicultural scenes that would welcome the Bergen-based boys into their bosom. L.A. is particularly hot when it comes to KMF’s brand of music. Maybe the following year will see them gain dates in the country. The band has a loyal and heavy following in Europe: surely Asia and Australia will fall under their spell? That possibility is quite a daunting one for a young band. After just putting their feet back on home soil; they are faced with the possibility of worldwide tours and commitment. It is perhaps their own fault: were their music not so wondrous and spellbinding they would not have that pull. If you look out the window and see clouds, rain and something very un-spring-like: put Young You on; close your eyes…
AND forget about it all.