Richard Öhrn 🇸🇪 - ‘Sounds in English’ (Album)
I want to cover as many releases as possible before Christmas, so I hope no-one minds some slightly shorter features at times, although in the case of Richard Öhrn that does seem particularly unfair given 'Sounds in English' is the result of 10 years writing and recording.
Of course, he hasn't just been doing this, and musically he's better known for being a leading force behind Swedish indie darlings In Deed, who we've featured a number of times on these pages. I picked 'Sounds in English' randomly out of a long list of albums I hadn't had chance to listen to, and I can honestly say it's one of the most instantly likeable releases that I've heard in a long time.
Straight from the opening of 'Seal Your Move' we're treated to a typical catchy Öhrn melody, very 60 's inspired clearly, but it's the development of the track that just gives this so much warmth, with the addition of a mellotron flute (I think) adding a lovely unexpected dimension to it. The fluid and effortless songwriting continues in '5th Month Announcement', and in 'Time's Not Running Out' there are shades of pop from 60's to 90's, with more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub. Meanwhile 'The Coolest Manners' evokes the likes of Jellyfish, complete with a joyous instrumental section to end.
Maybe I should let Richard Öhrn explain more about the album. "As a kid in Sweden, I remember English as sounding cool, a lot cooler than our native language, when hearing it on television or records. So, you just made up sounds that were English-like. It's been said that when listening to music, meaning is not as important as the sound of the words. I agree with this in many ways, and since I'm not a native English speaker, there is the freedom to make up lyrics that are first and foremost 'singable,' then perhaps add some meaning or logical sense.”
Maybe this approach is similar to that which fellow swede Martin Månsson Sjöstrand from NMR favourite This Heel uses, his lyrics are entertaining but mostly unfathomable.
Anyway pre-album single releases 'Love and Friendship' and 'Take this Bottle' are obvious favourites, whilst Öhrn shows the variety in his songwriting and musical instrumentation with the country inspired 'Could Have Loved You More' (complete with horns and strings), the heartfelt crooning piano ballad “If I Could Read Your Mind" and the pizzicato string driven concluding track 'Spanish Moon'.
Overall this is fabulous success, and I don't normally mention record companies in features, but credit to the lovely guys at Big Stir Records in California for making such a fuss about this release. It's just an awesome set of 12 tracks, timeless, almost perfect indie pop that we pretty much guarantee will bring a smile to your face. Hope we don't have to wait 10 years until the next one.