Album of the Week: 'Ari' - 'Radikoj'
We've covered the extraordinary M Rexen album this week, but our Album of the Week is far less 'weighty', and far more palatable on the ear. We've written about 'Ari' (Ari (Guðmundsson) previously when he released his 'Fræ'' album back in 2017 and the multi-instrumentalist is back with his second album, entitled 'Radikoj', and it's 10 nicely written songs, far more acoustic based than his last album, and the type of album that you should like on first listen - it certainly appealed to me straight away anyway.
It all opens with 'Empire' with quirky accompanying rhythms, and although it's a relatively slow opening it develops into a nice enough melodic song, whilst 'Crossfire' develops with an attractive musical backdrop including a cello, oboe and some interesting lyrics. But it's Blue Neon Moon that really gets things going, simply because of its infectious melody and jaunty rhythmic support - it's an irresistibly catchy song and an obvious highlight of the album. But songs such as 'Cold War Love' also appeal, I like the complexity of the musical arrangements that sit in the background, and again the lyrics are thoughtfully written too.
It's the precision in the ryhthms and instrumentation in 'Wolves' which stand out again, building from percussion and bass, before it blossoms with a big melodic chorus. But my undoubted favourite of the album is 'Repeat', which is just such a lovely track, opening with a piano and a lovely vocal tune, before the (inevitable) cello joins and adds a gorgeous depth to the sound. 'Holy Water' is catchy enough, and I like the opening (and again the instrumental support), but melodically it doesn't quite capture my attention, although 'The Last Waltz' brings a dark smile to my face, and leaves me hanging on to the words: ''there's socks on the ceiling, and piss on the ground, I was chasing my own tail as I fell face down - I'll add it to my collection of melancholy last waltz songs, which is still headed by Koria Kitten Riot.
'Ari is always a songwriter that I'll have a lot of time for, his approach to writing melodic Indie Pop style songs seems simple enough, but there's such detail in the musical arrangements that carry the tracks along - rhythms play off each other, additional instruments are subtly infused into the mix, and there's always another 'tune' ready to be thrown in. I'm pretty sure at the time of his first album 'Ari' mentioned a trilogy of albums and I hope that's turns out to the case at some point, because 'Radikoj' seems like such a naturally conceived album with the acoustic sounds suiting the vocals so well, and 'Ari's' music will always be welcomed on our pages.
Nordic Music Review 8/10