Husky Rescue - The Long Lost Friend Album Review
So who decides exactly what's classed as strange these days anyway? Is it true that the omnipresence of music in every part of our lives has widened our exposure but at the same time narrowed our horizons? Husky Rescue's fourth album, 'The Long Lost Friend' isn't weird - we get odder things here in our breakfast cereal at Contact Towers - but it certainly doesn't fit that neatly into the homogenised jigsaw of contemporary pop, but just what does that lack of place mean, if it means anything at all?
Now rebooted as a three piece, the Huskies are the life's work of Finn Marko Nyberg who, after the departure of vocalist Reeta-Leena Vestman in 2011, then recruited Swedish singer Johanna Kalén as a replacement and latterly Englishman Anthony Bentley. The trio's first effort - late 2012's 'Deep Forest Green' EP - was a move into a more programmed, future folk, but kept at least a toe in the 20th century. Where that still had echoes of the country, 'The Long Lost Friend' is almost entirely an arty, futuristic affair that's happy juxtaposing ploughed fields with car parks.
This means, in practice, that frequently it's programming that takes over from "real instruments", although Kalén's voice still has a rustic purity that blunts the edges of all the new-fangled technology. Of this gentle, minimalist approach, opener 'Restless Feet' is as good a marker as any, although 'Under Friendly Fire' has a childlike playfulness with "Starships gathering in the night" above us and the skittering tempo recalling the similarly bright eyed synth pop of long forgotten America's Venus Hum. Where things do get a bit off centre it's never as a result of attempting to shock, or push boundaries unnecessarily. Nyberg has, for example, somewhat obliquely described the more maverick spirit of 'River' as "Basically, a lovely place to be at", one that emerges after the distorted vocals of the first half melt away to reveal a sublime landscape and grand, almost symphonic finale.
This lush slice of greenery, or perhaps the weeds growing up from under the concrete under your feet, foster 'June', the album's apex moment and a series of glitchy percussion and understated harmonies finally sprouting into a glorious, Bjork-esque crescendo that underlines how easy it would be for Husky Rescue to attach themselves to the entertainment world, no matter how counterfeit they themselves may feel about the betrayal of any higher minded principles.
Probably too slight at only eight songs, it sounds easier said than done, but combining this crop and their previous EP may well have served Nyberg and co. better. From a number of perspectives, though, they should be applauded; perhaps this attempt to essentially strip away the precepts of modern music about what is cool, to reduce it to something more about belief than aural wallpaper, represents the most naïve thing we've heard in years. Brave, then, or weird? But 'Long Lost Friend' is inventive and without pretension, thus making it different to 95% of the sounds you'll hear anywhere else this year.
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