EFTERKLANG: Magic Chairs (4AD)


Posted on Feb 4th 2010 12:56 am

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Efterklang: Magic Chairs

Magic Chairs
4AD 2010
10 Tracks. 43mins47secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Having recently signed to 4AD, after six years in the care of Leaf, for whom they delivered three albums and a handful of EPs, Danish quartet Efterklang have spent the last two and a half years on the road. While Parades had grown organically during lengthy studio sessions, the songs on Magic Chairs were road-tested live during the last year and fine-tuned before the band went in the studio. The basic structure of the songs were laid down by the quartet in Århus, eastern Denmark, before they returned to their Copenhagen studio, once again calling upon a splattering of regular contributors (Peter, Broderick, Heather Woods Broderick, Rune Fonseca Mølgaard, Frederik Teige, Daniel James) to add orchestral textures. The album was mixed in London by Gareth Jones, who has in the past worked with artists as diverse as Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Mogwai, Tuxedomoon, Diamanda Galas, Wire or more recently Grizzly Bear.

Magic Chairs, a reference to a film by Danish-born filmmaker Jørgen Leth, is a much leaner and more mature affair than its predecessor. Adopting a resolutely traditional verse/bridge/chorus structure for their songs and a more condensed sound, Efterklang have made a clear move toward more accessible pop music. The album is filled with exquisite hooks throughout, rendering songs such as Modern Drift, I Was Playing Drums, Full Moon or Mirror Mirror particularly accessible. Efterklang never take themselves too seriously, anyone who has seen them life can vouch for that, and they still distil humorous touches here and there, most particularly on the Clapping Music-meets-Last Night A DJ Saved My Life oddity that is the thrillingly catchy Raincoats, but one cannot fail to notice that while this new album is very pretty and polished, it doesn’t quite have the same urgency and flamboyance as its predecessors. The songs have lost a lot of their fragility, there is very little left of the orchestrations’ chaotic enchantment, and the vocals have lost much of their visceral aspect, leaving Casper Clausen strangely exposed in the fore.

Compared to the audacious free flowing melodies and orchestration of Parades, this new record is much too pristine and tidy, lacking the primal energy of its predecessor. Parades felt as if it could collapse at any time, and was therefore to be devoured with gluttonous fervour. Magic Chairs is a much sturdier affair, but it is also far less inviting and warm. Taken at face value, it is a particularly fine pop record, one that will undoubtedly gain them a whole new contingent of followers, but Efterklang are in essence a far much more generous band than this album could lead to think, and one can only hope for the rapid return of their enchanted marching band.


Efterklang | Efterklang (MySpace) | 4AD
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Modern Drift by Efterklang from Rumraket on Vimeo.

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