Casiokids Aabenbaringen over aaskammen

[Polyvinyl; 2011]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Norwegian synth-pop
Others: STRFKR, Datarock, FM Belfast, Efterklang, Lo-Fi-Fnk

Norway’s Casiokids first stormed the beaches of North America with their 2010 release Topp stemning pa lokal bar, a collection of singles that served as their Polyvinyl debut. (Their actual debut album, 2007’s Fuck MIDI, made them an underground sensation across Scandinavia and Europe.) On the back of Topp’s release, the band earned both a scholarship funded by notable countrymen A-Ha (who later invited them to open for their farewell tour) and a Spellemann (Norwegian Grammy) nomination for the cinematic “En vill hest” video. This recognition allowed the band to perform the festival circuit in England, Poland, and Australia, and complete a sold-out tour across North America.

The Casiokids juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down with Aabenbaringen over aaskammen, their first proper album on these shores. Where Topp stemning pa lokal bar was recorded scattershot in cantinas, office spaces, and hallways, Aabenbaringen over aaskammen was made with home-court advantage, at the band’s own rehearsal space in the Bergen Kjøtt artist warehouse. So, of course, their new album is far more visionary than the mixed-pot collection that preceded it. It’s also far more seamless and engaging from start to finish.

The strength of their compositions has improved immensely. This is evident in the opening title track, a somber orchestral flourish with shades of Philip Glass that peaks with birdsong and nature sounds before giving way to the slippery club-friendly synth-pop of “Det haster!” The bird sounds make a joyful return on “Golden Years,” looped inextricably in the background of the supremely bubbly track. Taking a page out of the Yeasayer handbook for vague 1980s nostalgia, “Golden Years” features a driving beat, warm bass, cute synths, cheeky percussion, and a catchy chorus. The bird loop mostly keeps time, yet its timbre adds an extra layer of charm to the track’s texture. It’s still pop, but it has enough quirky charm to keep it decidedly modern.

Elsewhere, “Dresinen” has a distinctly late-90s Supergrass character to it, especially in the falsetto chorus and funky UK guitar line, while “Aldri ska me ha det gøy” is a dreamy ballad. These two alone show the ability for great contrast in their compositions, while the dense richness of their production reflects their growth in the studio.

Aabenbaringen over aaskammen celebrates, above all else, pure, unadulterated fun. But where recently so many hackneyed Johnny-come-lately bands have bought a Casio keyboard and pilfered the 80s aesthetic with no thought towards creating a lasting or intelligent product alongside the saccharine hits that inspired them in the first place, Casiokids show a subtly deep thoughtfulness coursing their thoroughly joyous songs.

Links: Casiokids - Polyvinyl

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