A few weeks ago, I wrote a review for the London outfit Veronica Falls, with their penchant for boy/girl vocals, a distinct layer of fuzz, and a dedication to romanticizing adolescence and your eventual death, even going as far as referring themselves as “graveyard pop”. While this Swedish quintet share the same fondness for male/female harmonies, that’s where the resemblances end. MF/MB/ lean further into the grandiose with their sophomore effort, Colossus; their searing guitars soar through the stratosphere instead of remaining in the tiny confines of the desolate countryside recording studio where they recorded this within only a few spring days. The recklessness shows throughout, becoming more of an asset than a handicap. Tight only where they need to be, when the group relies on pure improvisation, it brings out the most inspiring moments on the record.
“Unto Death” introduces the album like a spacecraft descending onto Earth from a distant land, leaving you anxiously hanging. Two sets of drums kick in, singer Erik Nilsson growls over distorted synths, and before long you’re swept along in what is an incredibly catchy opener. It continues with “Art & Soul”, with its foreboding vocals muffling the shimmering lightness trying to get out. “Passing Complexion” displays the advantages of having such an impressive percussion section, it’s instrumentation both poised and carefree, ending abruptly after a collision of guitars. “The Worst Dreams” could have easily been their breakout song, but that title is reserved for its successor, “Causalities”, released late last year. Comparisons to Arcade Fire were tossed around, but I found that I was more drawn to the grim honesty of their lyrics: broken hearts, dead relationships, and searching for some kind of resolution.
“I Am An Entity” starts the second half of the album, with Nilsson finding his lower vocal register. This could be the most introspective track on the record, focusing more on the monster within, the overall theme of the album. ” Cocktail Kid” could be called their ballad, but with the constant disdain dripping from every lyric, it’s difficult to discern if anything is an insult or a turn-on, and for that very fact, it’s easily become my favorite track. The industrial “The Chant” takes a cue from 80s goth, particularly Siouxsie and the Banshees, it’s “come hither” quality making it a great companion to it’s predecessor. The final couple of songs are slow burners, markedly “You Were The Last One to Do Such a Thing”, another story of passion gone awry.
MF/MB/ have noted that their debut, Folded, was a reaction to the world around them, born out of frustration. Colossus, then, is their reaction to that, examining the monster contained inside of it. At times, they seem to find what they’re looking for right away, but more often than not, they continue to search for an answer that’s beyond them. Examining the psyche of a collective is a daunting task, but it’s the moments where they honestly examine themselves that offer real clarity. Colossus stumbles upon the essence of self that they’re searching for, but the album’s best moments offer glimpses of something amazing twinkling just out of reach.