Danish artist delivers a stripped-back debut set of enticing ethereality.
Mike Diver 2013-01-16
Indians makes sense at this time of year. The works of Danish artist Søren Løkke Juul, these songs belong to days where gazing onto a frozen scene from the comfort of a heated home is a fine way to pass time. February in Denmark is the country’s coldest month, with a mean temperature of zero degrees Celsius. But with Somewhere Else on the stereo, the listener should easily chase away any chills.
This debut isn’t the most immediately transcendental, take-one-elsewhere collection; but its 10 tracks do cast a gentle spell on their audience, Søren’s slight, treated-into-ethereality vocals woven around arrangements that politely meander around elements both acoustic and electronic. At times it’s akin to Grizzly Bear at their more sedate; others, like Young Magic with the tripping tendencies dialled right down. Comparisons to Bon Iver have been made previously, and it’s easy to hear why.
Frequent evocations of predecessors takes nothing away from the obvious strengths of Søren’s songwriting – with such a stripped-back sound presented, parallels are always likely to come quickly on a cursory listen. But revisit Somewhere Else and its own qualities become more evident: Melt, coincidentally also the title of the aforementioned Young Magic’s debut LP, is a hypnotic meditation on finding strength in sorrowful situations, capped by a beautiful piano coda.
Elsewhere, Magic Kids’ slow-pulsing synths back plaintive lyrics locked in lamentation – “I like to see your eyes / But your eyes do not see any longer” – and New bubbles with warm electronics perfectly complementing a double-tracked vocal. It’d recall MGMT, if the psychedelic duo were in the business of wearing hearts on tatty sleeves rather than gleaming space helmets.
Somewhere Else certainly reveals itself slowly, but persist and there’s real beauty to be found here. Understated and unhurried, it showcases an artist whose star isn’t rapidly ascending towards the stratosphere of indie’s most celebrated. But track Søren’s continuing course starting now, as there’s potential in these quietly confident compositions, enough at least to soundtrack a handful of escapist dreams while snow drifts block one’s return to icy reality.