I got myself completely bogged down on trying to write something coherent and constructive about the new Of Monsters and Men album, a nice enough album sprinkled with mediocrity, and it reminded me that I’ve started to miss the point in our Nordic Music Review album reviews. We should be trying to find great new Nordic music, writing a few concise words about why we like it, and then letting you run off and make up your own minds.
Thankfully a whole host of new albums has arrived in the last few days, so armed with 5 brand new Nordic releases I headed off on a long drive over the Pennines hoping that something would jolt me out of the ‘Of Monsters…’ rut that I’ve found myself in. I wasn’t expecting that the self titled album by Finnish band ‘The Stillwalkers’ would achieve this so spectacularly. The Turku based Indie Rock band have produced something that is so special, so brilliant and so intelligently and thoughtfully written, that I found it impossible to listen to anything else all day.
The opening track ‘Another Year’ is straight forward enough, it’s thoughtful and melodic, with understated vocals, but as with all their tracks, they have this ability to transfix and mesmerize you with songs that build, soar and flourish the deeper in they get. And once they launch into ‘Bruises’, a pretty blistering track, we know this is an album that means business. ‘Everything Stays the Same’ was a pre album single, and it’s a strong song with a great chorus – but this isn’t an album with 3 stand out singles and 8 album fillers – they set the bar high from the start, and then just keep on delivering.
After track 4, ‘Tabloids and Polaroids’, I’m left with no choice but to return to the start and listen to the album again, i already wanted to hear the first few tracks for a second time – something I can only remember doing with Clearlakes brilliant ‘Lido’ debut. Theres so much to discover in each of the tracks too, with rich instrumental sections laced with brass, keyboards and the odd Glockenspiel, this band simply make a great noise.
Passed halfway and we’ve reached ‘The Runaway, a bold catchy track with vocals more prominent to start, and then an instrumental section that starts with such a simple theme, but is delivered with such intensity and power as it crescendos to the end of the track. We have those shades of darkness and light that I love so much, and its another well constructed song that gets stronger in the later stages. And we conclude, sadly, with ‘Haunting Ghosts’, another very individual track which opens with a Trumpet theme, and the fade at the end of the album almost makes me sad that its finished.
Theres hardly a shortage of good guitar based Indie bands out there – whether its post rock, power pop, polite punk, progressive rock or evil shoegaze boogie woogie. But The Stillwalkers have thrown themselves into the middle of all those genres and produced their own distinct version of Indie Rock, with a debut so impressive that I’m struggling for comparisons, and almost wouldn’t want to try. This is seriously good. This will, if you give it chance, draw you in and mesmerize you with its big sound, easy going melodies and perceptive thoughtful vocals. I like it very much indeed.
Nordic Music Review 9/10
‘The Stillwalkers' is out now through digital channels, but the CD will be available from 11th July. Enjoy.