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Villebrad - 2009 - "Descending"

(54:30, Transubstans Records)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Stygnen 2:56
2.  Du ar Svag 4:15
3.  Skjuten i Hjartat 4:57
4.  Alskade Maskin 5:18
5.  Amerika 3:14
6.  Vaknar Aldrig 4:09
7.  Dom Har Forstort Dig 6:50
8.  Feberdrom 4:41
9.  Ljus Fran Innanmatet 2:49
10. Neandertal 3:42
11. Ultrarapid 4:29
12. Tusen Satt Att Forklara 4:30
13. Slutet 2:40

LINEUP:

Pahl Sundstrom  vocals; guitars
David Hallberg  guitars 
Erik Sundstrom  drums 
Petter Broman  bass 
Stefan Gadnell  keyboards 

Prolusion. The Swedish band VILLEBRAD was formed back in 2004 and made its debut with a self-released 5-track EP one year later. In 2006 it was signed by Transubstans Records, which subsequently released its first full-length effort "Alla Ar Har Utom Jag". "Ultrarapid" is the band's sophomore full CD, and was issued in early summer 2009.

Analysis. Naming one's influences is a popular sport for many artists today. With the advent of the Internet and MySpace in particular, tracking what the artists regard as the most profound inspirations for their works is easier now than ever before. In the case of Villebrad that list is extensive and eclectic, with artists like The Beatles, Megadeth, A-Ha and Killing Joke amongst the ones mentioned. As one might gather from the examples mentioned, cited musical inspirations may be more misleading than a reliable guide when it comes to giving an indication of the musical expressions explored by an artist. My own impression is that the music explored on "Ultrarapid" will probably be best described as art pop. Similarities in sound to acts like A-Ha and Radiohead are easy to find, and U2 is another group I was reminded of quite a bit throughout this production. Light in timbre and dark in mood, with a distinct melancholic presence throughout, Villebrad's members still manage to carve out a niche of their own on this occasion, and their overall sound isn't marred by the presence of replications on any highly noticeable level. The lead vocals dominate the proceedings pretty much. The instrumentation has somewhat more of a subservient role throughout, whilst the vocals soar above. Sundstrom has a strong, melodic voice and manages to carry the songs with relative ease, adding subtle emotions and a gentle melancholic vibe to the proceedings. The language of choice is the band members native Swedish, which may alienate potential foreign fans of the band. While indie rock and new wave are easily detectable in the instrumental scope of these compositions, Villebrad does have a few more tricks up its sleeve as well. The rhythms and melodies contain quirky elements and at times rather sophisticated harmonies, and the odd dissonant effect and subtle disharmonic flavor both have their place in the soundscapes created. Textured instrumentation with similarities to post rock is a constant feature, and when used the organ gives a passing nod or two in the direction of 70s art rock as well. Short tracks with strong melodies and dominating lead vocals are very much the name of the game on this venture, but beneath this mainstream-oriented approach there are levels of sophistication that should please many with a taste for the lighter side of the art rock universe.

Conclusion. Those who take a general interest whenever they encounter the expression art pop seem to comprise a core audience for this sophomore effort of Swedish band Villebrad, closely followed by those who feel at home with descriptions like sophisticated mainstream-oriented rock. The Swedish language might alienate a few potential fans though, and the constant use of post rock inspired tendencies might not sit right at home with everyone either. "Ultrarapid" is a strong album nonetheless, with a potential for also achieving a strong impact outside of progressive rock circles.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 6, 2010
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Transubstans Records
Villebrad


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