We've been back writing for a couple of months on and off, so it's probably a good opportunity to sit back and summarise some of the Nordic Music Review 'highlights': We started with Armadillo King and the hat he bought in Ramsgate High Street, before discovering that Brentford centre back Mathias Jørgensen also apparently plays keyboard in Nordic maths rock band Isjborg. After reminiscing about Mirel Wagner's mouse, discovering that Martin Månsson Sjöstrand's cat 'Poh' was a serial butter thief, and upsetting Leprous fans (again...), we found out that American folk artist John Prine had an obsession with Danish smørrebrød, there was something about bondage that I can't quite recollect, before finally receiving advice on the best Pacific Island beaches to visit (the Cook Islands apparently) courtesy of still traveling NMR writer Harri.
Now I'm not entirely sure this is all relevant to our central aim of reviewing Nordic Music, so hopefully Ocean of Lotion (Harri featured a single in October) will stop me from getting distracted by too many other subjects. They're an eclectic bunch, who've been around for over a decade, and without question their most brilliant moment, in fact one of the most brilliant moments in the history of music, came when in the midst of Covid lockdown they hired an Aquatics centre and performed the most astonishing musical extravaganza whilst dancing around the pool, and perched on top of diving boards. It was an astonishing spectacle that left just one unanswered question: just how many risk assessment forms and disclaimers did the Aquatics manager and band have to complete before they were allowed to do it.
Actually that performance featured many of the tracks on new Album 'LouiLouiLoui', a release which is simply hugely entertaining from start to finish. Whether the band will take this as compliment I'm not sure, but 1st listen resulted in genuine laugh out loud moments, from the ridiculous lyrics in 'Crocodile' to the oriental themes and guitar solo in'Made in Taiwan', for some reason all of it just left me with a permanent fixed grin on my face.
The whole thing opens with 'Aphrodite', a fuzzy synth rock track which immediately highlights a theme central to the album, extremely memorable lyrics which at least almost make sense - the opening line is the rather wonderful 'Too hot, too cold, Goldilocks will never grow old' and then "I'm lost in America, I'm lost wherever I go', with a chanted 'Aphrodite come find me' chorus featuring lovely gravelly backing vocals from none other than Jon-Ivar from Major Parkinson.
'Rejection' takes us back to the 80's, with a playful hook of a tune, it's trippy, danceable and easy listening, but I can't deny that it's 'Made in Taiwan', which for me elevates the album to a different level, a track which is so stuck in my consciousness that someone last week asked me why I just announced to a train full of people that I had 7 dollars in my pants, which of course I felt obliged to outrightly deny I'd just done.
The wonderfully laid back 'I Don't Only Have Eyes For You' has a gorgeous melody and opens up to a retro sax solo which seems to fit the track perfectly, before the thumping bass fuzz of 'Cats in Space on Synthesizers', which considers online relationships against a catchy tune and soaring chorus - "I met her at the internet, she said that she was into cats, the feline not the musical, and then I knew that I was sold'. Now of course, liking Cats the Musical would be a huge red flag in any prospective relationship, but again these are all both relatable and just slightly silly lyrics that just stick in the mind. It then launches into the familiar 'Skinny White Pants' riff, the rip-roaring track we featured previously on these pages.
'Crocodile' is an intense track with thumping instrumentals, but all based around the quite ludicrous question for a rock song over the difference between a Crocodile and an Alligator, and then again an African and Asian elephant. I'm sure it's all an allegory for something or other, but this is where my previous life working in a Wildlife Park does at least come to some use, because a Crocodile has protruding teeth from a closed mouth, whilst you'll only ever see an Alligators teeth when it opens its mouth to eat you - a useful fact which should offer you all a fleeting moment of 'Andy was right about that whole Alligator thing...' nano seconds before you have your heads ripped off.
By the time we get to '7/11' and the space kraut rock 'Crime Cruise' we're into euphoric anthem territory, bigger bolder musical themes with bigger tunes and choruses, upbeat higher tempo songs too that ensure the album continues to grow in power and even confidence. The concluding 'I Knew I Was in Love Again' is even better still, with 'Do Wah Diddy' references, curious leftfield musical variations, a middle section that has hints of Major Parkinson and a grandstand musical and vocal climax.
So here it is, 'LouiLouiLoui', without question a standout album of the year, mainly for me because of the individual character of each of those tracks. And as you listen you'll find the album building in relentless intensity, seeping into your soul, lyrics churning around your mind, an eclectic genre-bending 'rainbow of colours', an almost riotous set of songs that offer brilliant musical moments without ever taking itself too seriously. Equally at home on the headline stage of a major music festival or poolside at your local swimming baths, Ocean of Lotion have delivered their 'raison d'être', and I already can't wait to see what they're planning next.
Find the album on Bandcamp.