Leading up to Christmas last year the new releases dried up at the end of November, but we seem to be getting more new music sent to us than ever, and we’ll be glad of the Christmas / New Year break to catch up on our backlog. And one new release we’re already a bit behind with is the Swedish project ‘Handshake’, whom we featured a month or so ago as a new artist and who have now released their debut album which is called ‘Runaway’.
If you missed that feature then, well ‘Handshake are an interesting combination, the band was formed after electronic instrumental duo Patrik Ebbersten and Carl-Johan Elger joined together with singer Peder Gravlund and they found that the combination of Gravlunds vocals worked well with their
electronic sounds. They released a single which we liked very much, and we've been getting to know the full album for a few weeks.
‘Handshake' have a unique sound and their songs are laid back and melancholy musings on life – in fact its so understated and at times downbeat that its taken a while to get to know and appreciate. But when it works it’s a real success, Gravlunds vocals are excellent, similar in style to The National’s Matt Berninger, and I like the contrast between them and the electronic background sounds created by Ebbersten and Elger – it gives it that really distinct feel musically.
I’ll highlight a few tracks which I like in particular, After the moody opening of ‘Comeback’, the pre- album, single ‘Waiting Still’ is an early highlight, and the vocals have a tinge of optimism even if the lyrics apparently don’t. But it’s actually these lyrics that I like as much as anything in the album, and that’s definitely the case in the next track ‘Young Minds’ – ‘We are the sons and daughters of the dead, still trying to live’. And musically this is also a strong track, with an almost catchy tune and it is unquestionably my favourite on the album . ‘Rivers’ is another track to be enjoyed with a quiet understated melody, whilst ‘Let Go’ has more of a dreamy quality to it.
I guess my only misgiving is that as an album it is fairly one paced, and whilst I’m generally happy with the melancholy ‘greyness’ being portrayed, I would like to have seen some more 'shades of grey'. But start like I did with ‘Waiting Still’ and let yourself be absorbed, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the clever lyrics and gentle weaving melodies and soft vocals. This is a fascinating debut from ‘Handshake’, and I really hope that this is a band project can be developed further.
Nordic Music Review 7.5 /10
Runaway is out on 'Red Olive Music' and can be bought on Itunes at the link below: Try 'Young Minds' or 'Waiting Still' if you're wanting something for a playlist.
Or you can listen before you buy on Spotify: