Finnish dream pop outfit NEØV has been one of our favourite new bands of the past decades. Each of their three studio albums so far – Orange Morning (2013), Dominique (2015) and Volant (2019) – gave us haunting and highly emotional anthems and it looks like their fourth full-length will continue that journey and takes the band to new and exciting heights. Today, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION is happy to welcome NEØV back in style with Marathon, a first song of their freshly announced album Picture Of A Good Life which will arrive in early 2021. It happens surprisingly quick after its predecessor but albums tend to have their own schedule as Anssi Neuvonen explains to us.
The Finnish songwriter remains the driving force behind the project which now re-emerges as a duo together with his brother Samuli. Marathon is a monumental piece of hazy dream rock and sees the band returning to their progressive roots while also moving the project forward as Anssi explains to us in the following brief talk.
Picture Of A Good Life will arrive a little less than two years after its predecessor. Tell us a bit about the different approach you had on this one.
When we started working properly on the new songs, we had just ended Volant tour that took us to new places but also involved pressure and low points. So, we were full of new ideas, influences and emotions related to that cycle. When writing and demoing the new songs, I worked just a few hours per day in order to be more expressive than with “Volant”, which has a different and calmer vibe. Once in a while, Samuli would come in and develop the songs, especially rhythmically. After that – which was just before the pandemic – we travelled to Hamburg to record most of the instruments at Clouds Hill. We worked with recording and mixing engineer Sebastian Muxfeldt, and we clicked very well.
The circumstances appear to be similar to the last album but what felt different this time?
With this new album, the whole process was quite fast and intuitive, which wouldn’t have been possible without the right kind of surroundings, atmosphere and people. Working with Sebastian allowed us to feel like “just musicians” in a good way, and it also allowed me to be an “old-school record producer”, you know, with a scarf, abstract language and hand signals, worrying about the vision but not about the technical aspects. (laughs). I feel this combination gave a very nice twist and a different kind of energy for the new songs.
With Volant, writing, demoing and recording were intertwined, and we needed much more time to complete the album. Back then, we wanted the freedom to work outside a professional studio and its schedules, which meant that we recorded the rhythms in a self-built cabin studio and then I ended up working for quite a long time in our home studio. But in the end, back then we needed the experience to go through the album recording process by ourselves.
I feel that, after all, the album process of ‘Volant’ was more about trying to perfect things – carefully and with much time –, and with the new album “Picture of a Good Life”, the album process was more about surrendering to the moment and improvising.
Marathon is quite an epic way to return. What can you tell us about the track?
Indeed, it’s our epic album-opener with repetitive build-ups and a big climax. Many of the songs on the new album are quite long and not following conventional song structures; Marathon is one of them. I guess we didn’t plan to write that kind of songs, we just wanted to let song ideas to run freely and not think about any kind of voice inside our heads talking about ideal formats or standards linked to a mind map of music career choices. Lyrically the track deals with album’s core them: the paradox of good life. The four lyric lines of the song are: “To understand what we look for, we have to fall on our knees. All this time and still we don’t know, how to get what we need.”
Personal changes have always been a crucial part in NEØV’s evolution – you were approaching this new album with yet a different line-up. How did it affect the sound?
Yeah, our line-up has been changing throughout the years. On the new album you hear NEØV that’s just me and Samuli, and nowadays we have a new tour lineup for live shows. I think it’s important to embrace changes – as an artist and in life in general – and let that affect your music.
Me and Samuli really enjoyed playing a wide selection of instruments for the record, but the overall focus on the album is, probably more than before, on our “first” instruments: lead guitar and drums. We wanted to make a messier and more guitar-driven album than our previous ones. That kind of songs worked best on last tour’s concerts, and I guess we, at least unconsciously, wanted to keep that feeling alive and create something out of it. Of course, there are a touch of synth textures, electro-influenced parts and quiet moments on the new album, but the outcome is much louder, messier, wilder and more guitar-driven than before.
On top, remarkable part of the new album’s sound comes from Clouds Hill’s impressive studio and Sebastian’s mixing style. Clouds Hill’s rooms and a selection of gear form a very characteristic sound palette, that is present on the album.
Until Picture Of A Good Life arrives we are very much looking forward to these upcoming musical adventures from NEØV. For now, please let the mighty power of Marathon absorb you. The music video was directed by visual artist, musician and a friend of the band, Appu Jasu, and you are kindly invited to enjoy it right here.
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