'The School Book Depository' - 'Bob and the Pitchfork Mob' (album)
I can't emphasise enough just how lucky I am to get sent such lovely music, and there's times when it's needed more than anything. There has had to be a short break in Nordic Music Review posts for reasons I won't explain here, and this is the last post before I take a more formal break - maybe / hopefully returning in September. But if it turns out to be the last ever review, well I couldn't have wanted this site to end in a better way, because it is the new album from none other than 'The School Book Depository', and this album has just lived with me for the last few weeks, on long car journeys to my family home, through terrible moments of sadness and helping me look over the horizon and the 'parting of the dark clouds'.
So I hope some will remember 'The School Book Depository' from their self titled debut album, a curious but entertaining affair courtesy of songwriter Fredrik Solfors which grew on us so much that it ended up appearing right at the top of our 'Album of the Year' listings in 2017, and it's remained a favourite ever since - who could ever forget titles such as 'A Fork in the Road for Behavioural Science' and 'Bob is a Civil War Re-enactor'. And the good news is that not only is 'The School Book Depository back', but more specifically 'Bob' is back too, as the new album is indeed called 'Bob and the Pitchfork Mob'. I really do love this from start to finish.
It opens with 'The Trail', and straight away there's a familiarity in the laid back sound, which immediately launches into a trademark melody and pointed lyrics - Fredrik Solfors just has this most natural way of constructing a song, with tunes that just lead beautifully into more tunes, and lyrics that I just want to hold onto and deconstruct their every last meaning. 'California' has this soft sensibility, ''We were just kids back then, but the window to our World is getting smaller'', but it's the title track 'Bob and the Pitchfork mob' that just gets to me inside even more than the amazing 'Airport Aprons' - ''There's a breeze in the air on this sweet summer night, but the mayors dumping bodies in the river'', with a reflective eye and the most beautiful melody, I just adore it so much.
How a song like that can be followed I'm not sure, but the gorgeous 'A Tear in the Fabric' almost matches it, as 'The School Book Depository' again demonstrate the ability to write more melodies in a song than most bands can manage in an album - even the harmonised ending in the last 20 seconds is pretty mind-blowing. Lifting the tempo, 'Sasquatch' has an indie guitar opening, all building to a chorus that deserves it's place on the biggest festival stage. But it's the lyrics that continually get me, because whilst 'Lunar Billboards' may not appeal as much musically', I'm transfixed with the words, challenging the worlds materialist and marketing obsessions - ''who cares if the world is crumbling, we just got our ad clicked''. Whilst the first album had the amazing 'Treadmill Heaven' to conclude, 'Bob and the Pitchfork Mob' wraps up with 2 gorgeous songs, the reflective 'Fly Over States' and the gorgeous 'Skywalker', a sweet intense song, which swells, makes its point and then leaves us with a cute piano flourish.
So I guess I'm allowed to point out that this album has brought me to tears, even if at times I haven't quite been able to explain why - maybe the contradiction of slightly sad but uplifting lyrics and melodies have just got inside me. Title track 'Bob and the Pitchfork Mob' is just so way out my favourite song of the year (with apologies to 'Moron Police), melancholy Indie Pop perfection with a bitter sweet taste to it, and I am incapable of listening to the album without re-listening to it at least once. We started 'Nordic Music Review' trying to find albums and artists we could bring to a UK audience that otherwise may not be known over here, and if 'Bob and the Pitchfork Mob' sits on the front of our website in perpetuity, well that feels like a real honour. This is not just real songwriting genius, but music and lyrics that somehow sum up all of humanities failings but then through their utter beauty makes the whole world make sense again. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Nordic Music Review 9/10