You know who Norway’s fairground punks Heartbreak Satellite are at this point, because we’ve already told you. We met the gang (Ragnhild Jamtveit, Tobias Pfeil and Håkon Brunborg) just hours after they got signed and just minutes after they played at an off-By:Larm show in Oslo in March, and talked to them about how the band formed and their plans for the future. Two singles on (their debut Are U Ok? and Follow), and with a debut album on the horizon, they’re back with a third. And we’ve got the debut listen of it, Bugs, for you today.
Heartbreak Satellite‘s slightly goofy, colourful kaleidoscopic world doesn’t naturally lend itself to a ballad, but Bugs is probably the closest they’ll ever get. It’s soft and slow-moving, and finds Jamtveit in an open, contemplative mood (‘Don’t freak out, don’t run, just stay right here, my garden is your home’), against a simple backdrop of gently-pulsing synths and snapping drums. It stays in that lush zone for a while, before the band explode into their natural exuberance for a bouncing middle-eight. In general though, like all Heartbreak Satellite songs, it’s hard to describe coherently, because there’s so much going on here. They’re a band that like to spark in all directions at once, and Bugs is a testament to their ability to do that and wrap the results into superb screwball pop. The band say:
In December 2016 we met in my (Tobi’s) tiny studio in Copenhagen to record our debut album. Bugs was the first song we wrote and recorded there. Håkon programmed a beat on the Volca Beats drum machine and I (Tobi) started messing around with a squeaky, rattling old Jazzmaster guitar owned by my friend Jonas (drummer in Danish post-punk band The Entrepreneurs) and a pitch-shifter. When we had set a complete form for the song, Ragnhild improvised nonsense vocal lines on top with a melody quite similar to the one you hear on the finished version. Later in Trondheim we recorded more drum machines and tracked some synths through an obscure Japanese chorus pedal on the bridge part. We really wanted this part of the song to be more out of control and stick out from the chill, dreamy verses that precede it.
Ragnhild wrote the surreal lyrics inviting you to hang out in her garden with her imaginary friend Elias, make love in a Zoo dressed in animal costumes and to climb up the Eiffel Tower etc… We wanted the lyrics to create a darker and loony undertone to the otherwise chill surf-rock-slacker summer mood of the track. I think we called the song Bugs more out of our shared fascination for animals and insects more than anything else. In the end, the track defined a whole work method for us as a band and a general aesthetic for our album paving the path for all our later compositions. We are releasing our debut album which will be called Foxy this fall on Brilliance Records.