Stockhom’s Himmelsgräns have been a breath of fresh air to listen to this week. There’s a certain humble and quiet quality to their songwriting and to this sort of synth-pop and gentle indie-rock presentation.
The song Heroes, the title track from this short EP, is beautiful – powerful in the way that a soft-rock ballad might be, but stylish and smooth in the way that shoe-gaze or soul-rock more commonly are. The vocals are modest, distantly placed so as to create a sense of space. The ambiance emerges with a dreamlike aura, though where some releases might utilize this to overcompensate for a lack of compelling songwriting, the song in this case is incredibly fascinating and musically satisfying at the very same time. That chorus is gorgeous, subtly anthem-like and luring you to join in.
The lyrics are also refreshingly intriguing, poetic and new – an uncommon perspective thoughtfully articulated. Fine yet delicate musicianship helps build this up to be the organic and impressive piece of music that it is, and we’re still just on track one.
F.W.Y.L sees the band lean in a slightly different direction. An uncertain piano softly begins the process, and the song that follows has a notably heavier and slightly Depeche Mode-like aura to it. The vocal is clearer now, somewhat, the verses in particular offer a minimalist set-up – which contrasts brilliantly with the full throttle warmth and choir-like togetherness of the hook. Once again, those lyrics are mysterious and deeply appealing. Even the instrumental breaks between vocals are artistic and build up to a superbly satisfying degree. The latter half sweeps you away on its rising energy, almost as if this were the soundtrack to some climactic final scene at the cinema. Himmelsgräns have something increasingly special about their sound.
Alla Faller on paper brings the collection to an end, though in reality it’s the final third of a project that sees a series of four-minute-plus journeys engage and envelop the listener.
This one is perhaps the most alternative of all, feeling a little Bowie-like in essence. The bass-line stands tall and walks in juxtaposition with the retro synths and the doubled vocals – which in turn march to their own somewhat traditional beat. The national flair here reminds you of the band’s roots, without taking anything away from how you receive the music.
This soundscape is epic as it evolves, a reverb-soaked guitar solo tumbles down, and still those vocals seem to call out for some sort of unity or resolve. Even with just the three songs, the eclecticism on Heroes is wonderful – and not at the cost of essential threads of character that run throughout. Himmelsgräns are a fantastic band, and brilliant songwriters. I look forward to hearing more.
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