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.
Continue reading: Husky Rescue - The Long Lost Friend Album Review
Perhaps for Husky Rescue front man Marko Nyberg things haven't all been plain sailing since the band's 2010 release Ship of Light; that he returns two years later in a three piece with two new members - Swedish vocalist Johanna Kalén and Brit Anthony Bentley - would seem to indicate that a bit of overdue spring cleaning has been taking place behind the scenes recently.
If there has been any strife, however, it appears to have failed to weigh heavily on the trio's shoulders, as Deep Forest Green finds them sounding playful, carefree even, and with a new sense of purpose which may finally see them coming into the mainstream's consciousness.
Not that much of this joie de vivre is evident on the glacial opener Min Lilla Eld, a rustic alt. folkie that allows Kalén the opportunity to tingle our spines with her gorgeously ethereal voice (not quite as visceral as Emiliana Torrini, but in the neighbourhood). At the other end of Deep Forest Green's quintet of songs, Skin of Snow is a blast of cooler air that recalls the occasional insularity of the band's last incarnation, but it's in between these two that the real nuggets can be found.
Continue reading: Husky Rescue - Deep Forest Green Album Review