Chiefly a project by Denmark-based Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, Choir Of Young Believers’ orchestral post-pop has seen them top the Danish charts with various singles already. With a fluctuating array of musicians, Makrigiannis has previously release grand, atmospheric nuggets that conjure up images of bold Scandinavian landscapes at every turn. Whether they can replicate their homeland success to the wider world is yet to be seen, and ‘Grasque’, the bands third album, is here to test the water. Unfortunately, you soon realise this may be a reach for an album which meanders to some odd places.
Makrigiannis began sessions for the album by experimenting on a pocket sampler, much of makes up ‘Grasque’ as it stands. Though never intended for a full COYB album, this may go some way to explaining the slight derailment. And it’s hard not to feel the songs, often sounding like a Casio melting in the corner of 80s crooner Sade’s living room, could have done with a bit of a reboot. It’s awash with icy synths, narcotic, nasally vocals, and sounds that prickle the ears, however mostly fail to deliver the punch of old. There are some brief highlights in the downbeat funk of ‘Gamma Moth’, ‘Jeg Ser Dig’ (pan-pipe strewn, euro-pop) and ‘Serious Lover’ (Chairlift on diazepam?).
But overall, Makrigiannis’ recent assertion that many songs are “more like trips” is spot on. It’s a kaleidoscopic, sometimes beautiful, often baffling, mostly intangible record. Commendable, but ultimately leaves you feeling as cold as a Nordic icecap. There’s little cohesion in the hour-plus of music; ‘Salvatore’ ends before it begins at 54 seconds (after starting rather promisingly like Burial’s ‘Forgive’), where hopeful closer ‘Does It Look As If I Care?’ meanders on to the nine minute mark, eventually sounding eaten by its own moniker.
A new chapter for the band perhaps, which may lead to some great results in the future. But whittle away the highlights and you realise ‘Grasque’ perhaps works better as a great EP.
Words: Clarke Geddes
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