'Loyal Liar' - 'For the Sharks That Roam Below' (album)
The number of Nordic album releases in our diary for February and March is pretty extraordinary, and we know for each one on our list, there's probably another 3 or 4 waiting to be discovered. One release which slipped out at the beginning of the year was from the lo-fi Swedish / Austrian folk duo 'Loyal Liar' (consisting of Albin Andersson and Hanna Magdalena Gödl), and the intriguingly titled 'For the Sharks That Roam Below' is a quietly charming album which doesn't clamour for attention, but is definitely worth seeking out.
Now I admit my attention was first turned by the mention of 'Belle & Sebastian' and 'Sufjan Stevens' style influences, because who doesn't like both those artists, and there's definitely a hint of both of them straight from the opening of 'Landlocked', with soft harmonies and understated vocals and backing instrumentation. 'The Lot' is a definite favourite, again the softness of the melody seems to throw the attention on to the lyrics, which are considered and left me searching to find the exact words online. The piano theme in 'She' has a familiarity to it, but the meandering laid back melody is quite gorgeous, and there's some lovely subtle musical touches from the piano and bass.
'Blind' is a real highlight, we're treated to a lovely instrumental waltz, cute harmonies and the softest of melodies, although 'Future Callings' has a darker feel to it and vocally there is a definite Sufjan Steven style, with the piano theme offering a 'pause' for contemplation and a lovely lilting vocal tune. The piano is central to 'Another Day' weaving patterns of sound, whilst the gentle 'Chief Provoker' may not appeal to me as much (maybe the percussion disrupts the delicacy of sound, I'm not sure), but just listen to the words, they're just so thoughtfully conceived. The album concludes with 'Fine', which slowly builds in intensity and I like how it ends with the words 'For the sharks that roam below, I will guide you home' - it feels a very natural conclusion.
Yes sure I loved the Hidden Land 'Perspectives' album we reviewed yesterday very much, and it was a phenomenal achievement musically. But whilst Loyal Liar may not be quite as distinct and unusual, it has that personal touch that really appeals to me. Lyrically I'm particularly drawn to it, and there's a gentle melancholy warmth in the instrumentation and vocals that underpins every song. Sure some of the latter tracks in the album will take some time to grow on you, but this is definitely worth the investment because it is an accessible melodic album which is actually really easy on the ear. 'For the Sharks that Roam Below' is a real hidden gem of a release, with the most organic sounding songwriting and whilst it may not clamour for attention, it certainly deserves it.
Nordic Music Review 8/10