Writing and recording out of a frosty corner of Sweden, The Deer Tracks - Elin Lindfors and David Lehnberg - have drawn upon all kinds of influences to create their own, wholly undefinable, world. Vast soundscapes are created with the aid of gentle waves of synth, and drops of delicate piano fall from gathering storm clouds, and then the entire world shatters and collapses into a tiny strobe-lit room, and everybody's dancing. Ambience trades blows with Electronica, a string quartet plays in the background. A firebomb of distortion suddenly obliterates everything, and the lines that separate one genre from another don't exist any more. I sincerely apologise for the barrage of metaphor, but that's just what listening to The Deer Tracks is like. You can't describe them without being as utterly removed from reality as they are. I'm fairly certain that there's another planet somewhere, on which Bjork and Sigur Ros live next door to each other, and The Deer Tracks come over every other day for tea and unnecessarily colourful cupcakes, while everyone wears weird woolly hats.
The duo has released three albums to date, two of which - Prologue and The Archer Trilogy Pt. 1 - are a part of The Archer Trilogy. This trilogy (which should really be called a tetralogy, on account of its four parts, but nobody knows what a tetralogy is) is essentially four albums released in quick succession. The first two instalments of the trilogy were released within a week of each other, back in March, and the final part is due to be recorded in the autumn. I can't see any obvious thematic link between the albums apart from the fact that they all have The Archer Trilogy in the title, but it's an admirable feat nonetheless.
The latest episode, The Archer Trilogy Pt. 2, is better than its predecessors, because it's a perfectly weighted album. The opener, 'Meant To Be', very slowly builds tension; the synth drones and the glockenspiel pitter-patters to and fro. Elin Lindfors's icy, Scandinavian voice begins to chirp the first few lyrics, stabs of distorted guitar begin to increase in volume, and then everything suddenly unfolds - a powerful drumline bursts into life, the synths waver, and a string section succeeds in making everything sound very dramatic. As soon as it all unfolded, the track stops; the last echoes of delay fade out, and what follows is a string of instant hits.
It's a rare occasion when almost every track on an album could easily be a single, but these songs work just as well on their own as they do with each other. This is possibly because of their heavy emphasis on insanely catchy melodies at the expense of particularly deep or profound lyrics. The lyrics aren't bad at all, but nobody's going to scrutinise them too much because of everything that's happening around them - they aren't the focus of the music, but Lindfors's enchanting vocal gate certainly blends in and adds to the already rich texture of the music.
'Fro Ro Raa/Ro Ra Fraa', 'The Archer', and 'Dark Passenger' are simply brilliant, if a little glock-heavy, but that's not such a bad thing. I could write for days about the unexpectedly complex rhythms, or the captivating but also somehow poignant and sombre melodies of these songs, but there's a word limit, so I won't. Just check them out. They're the strongest consecutive sequence of songs I've heard in a long time. '1000 Vanda Kinder' does away with all of the electronics and features only a piano, with male-female vocals, which, I assume, are singing something in Swedish. It's an intriguing change of pace, and sounds unmistakeably Jonsi-esque. 'Fa-Fire' contains the lyric of the album, "I cannot help it sometimes/I want to break your neck/Just to give you a reality check", as well as an air-punchingly powerful chorus, laden with electric guitar and soaring synths.
The closer, 'U-Turn', sounds like Lindfors is drowning in a sea of distortion. Waves of electronic sound splash against each other, until any voices are inaudible, and all that's left is noise. This album deserves far more recognition than it will probably ever get. The way that The Deer Tracks are able to mix instruments like glockenspiel and spiky electric guitars with drum machines and brooding synths is strikingly reminiscent of Weekend In The City-era Bloc Party, or, thanks to the addition of female vocals, even Two Suns by Bat For Lashes. Both of these albums received relative critical acclaim, and they deserved it, and so does this. Perhaps when The Archer Trilogy is completed, people will see it for the epic piece of art that it is, and this particular part of it will certainly be a highlight.
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