Rating: 3.0/5.0

Label: The Kora

It’s a good time to be a meticulous, largely acoustic musical group with a fine sense of harmony and arrangement. Since Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest managed to be both a critical success and a top 10 record, the landscape has to be a little easier on those who have a critical ear and a desire to sculpt intricacy in music. That said, Swedish duo Fredrik couldn’t have chosen a better time for their latest release, Trilogi.

Largely constructed from acoustic instrumentation and an overwhelming sense of darkness and gloom, Trilogi is an intense listen. Fredrik (one half of the duo, whose other part is named Lindefelt) possesses a voice that manages to be both detached and earnest; he does sometime sound overly refined, particularly on lyrics like “The harder the snow, the harder the grow/ The more you agree, the more, the more you can breathe” from the opener “Vinterbarn.” But it’s also finely textured music, with quickly strummed guitars and almost imperceptible basslines serving as rhythm, while keening, wordless vocals carry along the melody and atmosphere.

Unexpected touches crop up occasionally on Trilogi, like the gently sinister brasswork on “Ava” and the nearly dance-ready beat of “Mujina/Locked in The Basement,” but if there’s a fault to the album, it’s its consistency. Most tracks have a tendency to reuse the same elements and formula (a winning one, to be sure), to slowly diminishing returns. The pattern of smoothly distant vocals and chiming guitars over a quick beat can only take you so far, and when it’s the dominant part of 13 tracks, the songs tend to bleed together.

But that’s not to say that Trilogi is dull or the work of uncreative minds. Fredrik and Lindefelt clearly have an arsenal at their hands and utilize it well. It’s the kind of album that goes with winter; it’s the kind of album that you listen to deep in the dark of the night. Hopefully, when their next arrives, they’ll manage to expand into a few other hours of the day (and other formulas).

by Nathan Kamal
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