Getting lost in this delicate and often bewitching world is highly recommended.
James Skinner 2009-11-03
At only 19 years apiece, Swedish twin sisters Johanna and Miriam Eriksson Berhan have crafted a wintry, warming, wonderful debut album in Still Standing at Your Back Door. Flush with tales of adolescent heartbreak and woe, Lykke Li’s Youth Novels makes for an obvious antecedent – indeed, both acts have received the patronage of one Björn Yttling (of Peter, him and John fame) – but this is a rather different affair, swapping that album’s precocious polish for a pensive, earthy manner that suits the pair’s harmonies to a tee.
What we have for the most part here is quite simple, and no less effective for it: two girls singing and playing the guitar. Of course, it helps that they’re blessed with two extraordinarily pretty voices – one effortlessly reinforcing and complementing the other. But given a few listens, the album yields much deeper reward: a melodic touch as mature as it is sweet, and bold, evocative arrangements that revel in the possibilities offered them.
Opening with the hissing slow burn of its title track is a gutsy move, and sequencing gorgeous highlight More Childish Than in a Long Time immediately afterwards a masterstroke. On these songs the duo traverse minor-key soundscapes with self-assurance far exceeding their tender years – gratification hardly instant, but all the more enduring for it. The last of the opening trio is a mournful number entitled Same Side of the Moon, before the irresistibly positive Old Big Trees bursts forth. Take note: “Maybe my skeleton would be quite beautiful beside yours… we would still be pretty deep in the soil!”
All I Think Of eschews the acoustic template entirely, boasting deep low-end and stuttering percussion that frames the twins’ voices in agreeably unexpected surroundings. Elsewhere, His Heart or Mine comes on with a brassy Gallic sway that surfaces intermittently throughout these ten songs, bolstering Ripest Fruit in a style not dissimilar to that of Beirut’s delightful Flying Club Cup LP.
The album closes with Mary, wherein the girls’ vocals take flight atop sedate ivories and strings. It’s a graceful, tear-stained farewell, perfectly in keeping with the preceding and suggesting even stronger material lies down the road. Until then, getting lost in this frank, delicate, and often bewitching world is highly recommended.