An unexpected and intriguing album from the Norwegian synth-rockers.
Lou Thomas 2012-01-13
In 2008 Casiokids released the first Norwegian-language pop single in the UK, Grønt Lys I Alle Ledd. At that point the Bergen-based synth-pop crew had one cheap and cheerful Norway-only album behind them by the name of F*** MIDI, and looked set for some moderate indie-level fame. Two years later, a handful of further singles and their B sides – including genius instrumental house banger Fot I Hose – were collected as the Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar collection.
Now, finally, Casiokids have a proper debut album for the masses. And, with impressive intransigence, the outfit has refused to sing any more than a very occasional word in English. One might assume from this anti-conformist move that frontman Ketil Kinden Endresen and his bandmates do particularly care for mainstream success on the international stage. And perhaps that’s right – but, despite the language barriers erected, it’s a pleasure to report that they’ve produced a sparkling album.
The polysyllabic album title translates as "the revelation over the mountain". They think highly of themselves, these ‘kids. But while it’s praise too far to suggest the four-piece are offering truly revelatory fare, there are brilliant moments of oddness and euphoria peppered amongst these 11 tracks. The melody of Arcade Fire’s No Cars Go is hinted at during the title-track, a mournful piece enlivened by birdsong. Single Det Haster! makes jaunty use of Omar Johnsen’s driving synth melodies, resulting in a sweet yet weird flavour, and capping the opening trio is Dresinen, which sounds like The Coral covering I Monster’s Blue Wrath, albeit without the menace.
The LP’s best tracks come next. Golden Years is part-New Order, part-Kid Creole, a quirk-funk master-class. Brilliant and more likely to be a future single, Olympiske Leker combines Afrobeat percussion, Depeche Mode-style synths, glockenspiels and a light (but far from feeble) vocal from Endresen. The latter’s title means Olympic Games, and London 2012’s organising committee could do worse than adopt it as a theme tune this summer.
Elsewhere, and Selskapets Triste Avslutning begins like Vampire Weekend if they’d embraced a rather weirder side, only to transform into a slice of techno, and London Zoo features some urgent Underworld-echoing timbres and Endresen’s best, most wistful vocal. Everything adds up to an unexpected and intriguing album – but, then, one expects no less from a band that used to end their gigs with So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music playing over the PA system.