Review of Efterklang's album Magic Chairs
It must be a frustrating thing for a band when the majority of praise for their music is concentrated around their 'pristine sound' and 'polished edge'. Reading between the lines, you lack a catchy tune. Over the last 7 years Copenhagen's Efterklang - like oft-compared contemporaries Sigur Ros - have sat in this precarious position. Apart from a zealous 10 out of 10 from Drowned in Sound for 2007's Parades, praise for Efterklang's work has been cautious at best, paying dues to the lush, orchestral sounds yet citing the 'difficult' nature of the songs.
These criticisms will resurface once more with the arrival of new album 'Magic Chairs'. As a leftfield pop album it is no more instantaneous or throwaway than 'Parades' or any of their other outings for that matter. Its stilted, rich arrangements ebb and flow, seeming as unhurried and natural as the passing of time and yet just as abstract and out of reach.
Opener 'Modern Drift's' devastatingly precise piano creates a warm and beguiling mood which alters by inches throughout the albums course - drawing down to the depths of melancholy on 'Alike' and up to the rousing joy of 'Raincoats' and the wonderful 'The Soft Beating.' Quixotic to the core, just as you feel that you've grasped a part of 'Magic Chairs', it's changed again. There is little repetition here, which is the crux of people's struggle with Efterklang's music - repetition is safe and comforting, they don't offer any.
One thing they are exquisite at is drawing attention to the different personalities of the many instruments at play on the record: the brashness of the guitar alongside the gentle piano, the complement of male and female voices in a choral chant on 'Full Moon.' Every song is well-realised and there are many enchanting moments on 'Magic Chairs.' Realistically, it isn't going to win over the masses - it carries on down the same winding, elusive path they have always trodden. But there is an engaging and sometimes brilliant album here awaiting discovery, all you need is a little perseverance.