A collection of loose, organic songs with plenty of breathing space.
Alex Tudor 2010-03-02
Last year, the Shooting from the Shadows EP by Dag för Dag was the best of the under-the-radar releases to come this writer’s way. A brother-sister duo who’d relocated from America to Sweden, you can almost hear Jacob and Sarah Snavely becoming natives from EP to LP. Musically, a kind of fuzzed-up, punk Americana (Violent Femmes, The Cramps) has eased into something looser, and more eccentric, like many of the more idiosyncratic Scandinavians (Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Taken by Trees).
When they tell stories, Dag för Dag use transparent metaphors: if they sing about being on a pirate ship, it’s because they’ve travelled the world as struggling artists, not because they’re twee fantasists. On their brilliant single, Animal, they basically want to get to the essence of rock music: making whooping noises, and pounding on the kit. “Let’s go!” yelps Sarah before the drums and dirty guitars come in. It’s the kind of moment you’re anticipating every time you hear it.
Maybe this is subjective, but part of the appeal of Dag för Dag – who take turns with the vocals – is that you get the variety of male/female tones and textures, without one playing as a foil to the other (eg, the girl doing syrupy backing vocals and trite sentiments while the guy with the weaker voice gets the good lines). Both of them sing their guts out, because they’re brother and sister. They don’t have chemistry for each other, just the listener.
After a couple of months’ listening, it’s not what you’d call a “solid” debut album; in many ways, it’s something better. It’s a collection of loose, organic songs with plenty of breathing space as the pair find their voice… interspersed with immediate, and irresistibly catchy indie-rock anthems that manage to be powerful and honest without trying to be ground-breaking. On the EP, Ring Me, Elise was 2009’s song most likely to get me dancing, but with Sarah on vocals, the premise (“I’m a rock’n’roll star now, so call me girl…”) has an extra frisson of humour and abandon, like The Raincoats singing Lola. Preposterous, sexy, and fun.