Valkea (Finland) - ‘Toisin’ (single)
I remember first listening to early Mew after they were recommended by fellow Cardiacs fans, and being a little disappointed as they sounded nothing like them. Not that anyone does. Thankfully time and maturity mellowed me, and I have huge respect for the Danish band, who are influencers in their own right – and Finnish band Valkea are definitely a band who appreciate them also.
I say that, but actually it’s just latest track ‘Toisin’ which is written in that Mew style, all somewhat different to their 2019 release ‘Suurkaupunki‘, which is more ‘middle of the road’ indie. The band were formed by Tatu Palo way back in 2013, originally alongside Berlin based musicians, but since 2016 they’ve had a distinctly Finnish / Oulu based line-up.
Now personally I think the ‘new’ style suits them a lot better, more distinct, punchy, and with a little more ‘edge’ without affecting that natural melodic intent that Palo clearly centres his music around. The progressive style perhaps gives them more freedom (or vice versa maybe writing in that way makes it sound progressive), it has an anthemic chorus of sorts, catchy tunes and there’s some nice instrumental contributions – particularly the brass section. Slowly building to a climax gives it more of a post rock feel, and the contrasts dynamically give the track a sense of darkness and light. It’s a powerful and enjoyable song and I really hope future tracks follow the same path.
Oh yes, and it’s all in Finnish so I have no idea really what they’re singing about. I’d love to make up some nonsense that it‘s about a scarecrow jetpacking into space to rescue a satellite made out of cheese, but unfortunately they’ve sent some helpful notes which suggest the song “tells a story of a pariah who finds a body on a beach he lives next to. This causes him to reflect the regrets of his own life and idolising the perfect life the unknown person probably had.”
Very profound and thought provoking of course, but my idea’s clearly way better.