Molly Nilsson is a Swedish born Berlin based artist whose sixth album Zenith has just been released on Night School Records, proving once again that the Glasgow based label can do little wrong. Zenith is a study in atmospheric pop music, offsetting dark emotional lyrics against sometimes surprisingly poppy arrangements, producing a quite intriguing and enjoyable album.
One aspect of the record that stands out immediately is its atmopshere. Cloudy, lo-fi synths dominate most tracks, lending them an dark, moody feel that fits snugly with Nilsson's lyrics. Occasionally, this feeling can seem repetitive, and perhaps the album is a track or two too long, but generally, the foggy atmosphere of the tracks really works. The first few tracks are as good an example of lo fi electropop that you'll hear. The Only Planet and the superb 1995 (below) are wonderful swirling electronic openers with the latter having a tasty distinct 80's pop sheen complete with a subtle saxophone break. It also uses Windows 95 as a nostalgic reference point which is quite wonderful. The album then picks up the pace through H.O.P.E, Mountain Time and Bunny Club, all of which are songs you must hear. Mountain Club somehow brings to mind a vibe of saying goodbye to a loved one boarding a steam train at a Cold War era Ostbanhof in Berlin, despite the fact I've never actually experienced that.
The highlight of the album is the outstanding Happyness which is a grand, sweeping string laden affair that brings to mind the Pet Shop Boys at the peak of their doomed romanticism era around Behaviour. It's a stunning track and it demands repeated plays. The equally impressive and brilliantly titled Lovers Are Losers follows before the album takes a slight dip in quality with Clearblue and My Body as they both stick a bit too close to the atmosphere of the opening tracks without having any element that makes that stand out. Titanic, Bus 194 (All There Is) and Tomorrow get us back on track however, ending the album almost as strongly as it began.
|Molly Nilsson - Zenith limited edition white vinyl (my own copy)|
All told, Zenith is an excellent album, full of clever songwriting and production that reveals more and more with each listen. Rather than just being a set of good pop songs, it's a collection of multi-layered songs that draw you further and further into Molly Nilsson's world with each listen and, ultimately, that's no bad place to be.
Zenith by Molly Nilsson is available now on Night School Records on vinyl and cd
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