No, not Westlife, this is Pastlife, a Swedish indie pop duo. I don’t know much about them except that they are ‘Kevin’ and ‘Agnes’ and that Agnes also performs as Frida Lamm and bills herself as “a musician/producer who makes melantronic smartpop about sex, sleep and sociophobia.” The publicity about them came from Echolalia Records, a label and PR company apparently based in Manchester which has put nothing on its Facebook page for four years. The plot thickens. One for Columbo to unravel.*
They are newly formed (2020) and are “a courtship between bedroom psychedelia and Joni-esque writing”. I’m assuming that’s Joni Mitchell.
The song is (and I quote verbatim here) “a rejected woman’s soulful serenade of conviction. Her last words to an ambivalent could-have-been lover. It’s a bittersweet symphony (not made in Wigan I’d venture but that is in Greater Manchester), a grandiose closing argument; a vain attempt at propagandising feelings. In short, a break-up song.”
I’m liking this already. Quite apart from merging an episode of Columbo with Casablanca they’ve got an acute sense of humour.
I didn’t think ‘Joni-esque writing’ would fit easily with bedroom psych but it works. ‘This is Her’ sets its stall out from the opening bars with a big synth production that carries on for the full four and a half minutes. There’s a lot going on here musically, a cornucopia of layered instrumentation that would be worth separating out and listening to in its own right. It’s as if Trevor Horn had got his hands on a discarded Pet Shop Boys or Erasure track. The psych bit doesn’t really kick in until towards the end but when it does you might as well be in Haight Ashbury, circa 1968, with flowers in your hair and some good draw in your lungs.
And in between, Frida does a passable interpretation of Manchester’s acerbic Elle Mary, employing the same sharp lyrics she is known for. Indeed this song reminds me very much of her ‘Behave’.
I’ll lay odds that some national BBC radio jock picks this up and plays it; someone like Lauren Laverne or Steve Lamacq or Marc Riley. Then it should get the attention it deserves.
‘This is Her’ is accessible now on Spotify and Apple Music and the above lyric video was released today Friday March 5th which will be posted her once it is available.
* Note. Editor Agatha has extensively investigated the mysterious plot involving the label in Manchester (or at least asked the artist), and turns out it was just a coincidence and there is no connection between the two Echolalia Records, which I guess is a somewhat dull ending. And it still doesn’t explain the dead body in the boat shed.