Club K - ‘191202’ (album)
We’ve covered a range of styles this last week, but I don’t think we’ve featured any bands that fit within the Indie Pop spectrum, at least not the guitar based style that I prefer. Club K were recommended to me courtesy of one of their numerous members (Anton Linderoth) also featuring on a ‘This Heel’ release, and thus proving that Martin M. Sjöstrand (This Heel) does have actual friends playing alongside him, rather than imaginary space monkeys as he claims on his Bandcamp page. Their new album ‘191202‘ has recently been released.
Club K are almost veterans of the Malmo indie scene, so it’s a shame we haven’t featured them previously, but they haven’t released an album for a few years now, following ‘Let M Shake’ back in 2015. They have been prestigious tourers though, reaching Germany, France, Holland on their travels, but never sadly across to the UK, probably on account of it being financially impractical given the sheer numbers in the band – their Facebook page lists 8, and live footage I’ve seen of them seems to back that up.
For such a large band, their sound isn’t massive, but is based around clever, intricate indie pop with nice tunes and memorable lyrics – somewhere in between Belle & Sebastian on a couple of tracks and Alfie (for those in the UK that remember them), but with musical references from across a few different decades. Opening track ‘Buildings’ neatly dances around musically, whilst lyrically it’s all based on the curious realisation of how important buildings are to our thought processes, particularly modern skyscrapers in the city - ‘’it’s the constant truth that I’m surrounded by”.
‘Dubious Proposal‘ opens with introspective self-questioning lyrics: “invest in me, I admit it’s a dubious proposal at best” and already I’m drawn to the vocals being so distinct and easy to hear – they remind me a little of Brighton band Clearlake, who delivered lyrics in a similar style. Again the song rattles along at pace, and that’s the same too for the space surfing ‘Coal Mine’ (there’s an excellent live version on YouTube that brings it to life), it’s catchy albeit in a pretty simple way, and I like the manic instrumental sections too. Again it appeals lyrically, bemoaning the perils of working in an office: “it’s so hard making a decent living when I’m working in a modern coal mine”. I’d warn of the dangers of paper cuts, but we don’t even have that to contend with that health and safety risk these days.
The low key ‘Gloomy’ opens up with a big timeless chorus, whilst guitar riffs carry ‘When Good Become Crooked’, although for me it’s not as interesting melodically. Thankfully ‘I Told You I Was Sick’ is a highlight, with a lovely lilt to it, glockenspiels twinkling in the background and lyrics reprising Spike Milligan’s famous gravestone message.
‘Streets’ has an ear-worm of a melody and the vocals are laid back, and it’s another change in direction too, whilst ‘Poor Mans Race Horse’ is a frenetic instrumental track that doesn’t quite hit the climax I was waiting for. ‘Song about Nothing’ however is just lovely, with cute harmonies and intricate guitars, with words that really don’t mean anything, it’s a complete triumph of nothingness. ‘Smiling Faces’ looks at the aftermath of a break-up from a different perspective, “strolling down the street, to see if someone cares about this face, since you left I’ve been wondering how it looks to someone else’’, and it has another tripping irresistible melody.
There doesn’t seem to be too much complexity about Club K’s music despite the extended line-up and they’re not necessarily breaking too much new ground - there isn't really a 'hit' single on the album either. But '191202' has a charm to it, with simple appealing melodies and lyrics, sometimes serious and sometimes just nonsense, yet always completely relatable. And that makes it an album to really love, not just like. We haven’t told them yet, but when we bankrupt ourselves by organising that Nordic Indie Music Festival in the UK, Club K will definitely be on the line-up.
If you like Club K also check out the above mentioned British band Clearlake, currently on hiatus. Also This Heel have another release out, which we haven't written about, because Martin Sjöstrand writes music quicker than I can write reviews. Finally check out David's review of the new Pom Poko song, which is pretty good too.