What Never Was Will Always Be

TR 400CD TR 400CD

"I dream of cities -- endless cities where I will die alone..."

Welcome to the soundtrack for the next Ice Age, home to the last survivors of the global climate catastrophe. The night is pierced by a single voice, ringing as clear as crystal between Kiruna and Trelleborg. It belongs to the Swedish singer-songwriter Kristoffer Bolander, whose second solo album is being released by the Hamburg-based label Tapete. What Never Was Will Always Be offers compelling evidence of his accession to the European elite of alternative songwriters. Moving beyond the typical spectrum of alternative folk as heard on Bolander's 2015 debut I Forgive Nothing (TR 325CD/LP), the sophomore album represents a significant evolution in sound. The wonderfully delicate, high-pitched voice of the Swedish singer is framed beautifully by his excellent band, at times quietly focused, at others ramping up distorted guitars and visceral drums. But what really makes the atmosphere of What Never Was Will Always Be unique is the introduction of electronic elements. From gentle synth pads, reminiscent of Brian Eno soundscapes, to dry, pulsating electro drums, with flashes of arpeggios. The songs range from the epic über-hit "Cities" to danceable synth pop numbers like "Animals" and classic folk tunes such as "True Romance" which features Kristoffer Bolander's voice accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The album is a panoply of small worlds, every song occupying its own sonic dimension, produced to perfection. Add in Bolander's unique lyrical qualities and an extraordinary mood develops, his words falling like mantras from the future, with tales of lost cities and life-changing romances. The new components gently shift the music away from the tried and trusted folk album biotope into a forward-looking electro folk pop sphere. Kristoffer Bolander took care of all the arrangements by himself and Daniel Johansson, renowned for his work with the likes of Grammy winner Tommy Black, was on production duties. Together, the pair created a distinctive sound for each individual song. Bolander and Johansson's meticulous attention to detail shines through the array of instrumentation so masterfully deployed on the record, perfectly complemented by Bolander's expressive voice. What Never Was Will Always Be is a fresh, contemporary folk pop album, tempting the listener to dance, to dream, to cry. RIYL: Cigarettes After Sex, Brandon Flowers.