The feeling of losing someone and the feeling of letting someone go are not the same. Don’t mistake them – in the gap between desperation and acceptance lies a dark valley of emotional turbulence. Whoever was forced to cross it might have an idea of what SOLANDER and their third album Monochromatic Memories are talking about. Although originally drafted differently a personal loss forced the Swedish duo to change the perspective of the album – with a very satisfying and relieving result.
Fredrik Karlsson and Anja Linna working their way through the uncertain waters of pain, desperation and all the other aspects of such a loss within these ten songs. It’s an album that grabs you and your inner guts in the most gentle way. Opener The Woods Are Gone already takes us into the heart of gloom. We’re about to take a walk with these two people and see wherever it might take us. Already with the second song All Opportunities we find ourselves floating through the air. A tender and quiet flight, led by Karlsson fragile voice and Linnas beautiful cello. One of the record’s strongest moments. And one that really makes you wonder why SOLANDER are still such an unknown band.
Although Monday Afternoon lightens up the mood for a few minutes due to its joyful Banjo-driven melody we’re right back in the melancholic mood of the record. Black Rug marks another highlight, probably the strongest moment of Monochromatic Melodies. Karlsson starts singing the pure and desperate blues – just him and his guitar. In the course of this song SOLANDER somehow manage to switch the mood by adding tiny bits and pieces. And although the musician sings about the “a cold heart in this cold town” we find ourselves filled with a feeling of hope in the end. We don’t know how these two managed to do this but it works.
It’s not all about sadness and desperation. The uplifting and quite catchy Social Scene gives the record a grooving aspect just when it needed one. And this little ode to the nightlife works quite well within the context of the album. Maybe it’s a precious memory. It shows that darkness and light can go hand in hand.
And it gets a bit lighter in the end. The title track is a sweet and gentle desire for the summer to come. The hope for something better, “cause I’ve been waiting for so long.” And in the final song Lighthouse it really looks like the light at the end of the tunnel is finally in reach. We’ve made it, side by side with SOLANDER. Monochromatic Memories might be one of 2014’s first secret highlights. A fantastic album, full of heart, soul and bittersweet melancholia. A musical companion for these dark and exhausting winter days. And if you have the urge to let go – don’t do it with this band.
“Monochromatic Memories” by Swedish folk duo SOLANDER crosses the valley of emotional desperation from darkness to light – and it’s a beautiful journey.
NBHAP Rating: 4/5