There are two sides to this story: Icelandic duo BSÍ have released an album of two sides in ‘Sometimes depressed…but always antifascist’. Side one – sometimes depressed – is a collection of dream pop vignettes: restrained, delicate and eminently beautiful tracks that are reflective and melodic. Side two – always antifascist – presents some slightly more visceral and raw, tracks that burn and blister with a riot grrrl intensity.
As whole, it is a fantastic duality that maintains a common thread – the gorgeous vocals and a songwriting craft that glows.
Kicking off with “My Lovely’, there is a gorgeous timbre – soft, evocative vocals and a sinuous bass with shimmering strings. There is a deep romanticism to the sound: a haunting and devotional air. ‘TAL 11’ is more eclectic – a synth drone forms a consistent wall over a slippery, melodic bass and hypnotic vocals that display an incredible range.
‘Old Moon’ has the steadfast presence and enigma of a track by Mazzy Star: simple, delicate and melodic vocals and uncluttered organic instruments give a haunting ethereal presence. It is dreamy and languorous.
‘Uncouple is upbeat and with an insistent and driving rhythm that bubbles and gurgles like a clear stream with vocals ringing like a bell. It is a delightful tune – sweeping over a restless bass and a wash of synths. It’s immersive and dreamy.
’25Lue’ is a dreamy ambient multi-textured reverie with an exquisite Studio Ghibli clip for the lyric video.
And so we move to being always antifascist. ‘Vesturbæjar Beach’ heralds the shift to a more effervescent beat, but it is a smooth transition: it has a bright summer bounce with a bubble gum vitality but is melodic and crafted.
‘Feela það’ with a pop synth riff and new romantic vivacity starts to roughen up the atmosphere ever so gently with the distorted yelping vocals and slight discordancy. The lyrics are proudly strong and feminist.
‘My Knee Against Kyriarchy’ is a swift moving classic bubblegum pop: trotting along at a speedy pace and glowing, shimmering melodies and vocals. Pure anthemic pop.
‘Dónakallalagið’ on the other hand is a wild oscillating ride – chaotic and unhinged, a rampant bass line and vocal gymnastics that astound. It’s unrestrained and animalistic with a buzzsaw edge:
The album ends with ‘Alltaf Alltaf Stundum Alltaf’: another driving bouncy track filled with a verve, with amusing spoken word telephone interludes and a sky-high chorus and layered harmonies.
Despite being presented as an album of two sides, ultimately ‘Sometimes depressed…but always antifascist’ is a cohesive whole: tracks of pure dream pop delights with a couple of diversions into the realms of something with a harder, visceral edge. According to the band, they invite listeners to smash kyriarchy, that is: smashing sexism, racism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and all other social systems based on oppressive, hierarchical and patriarchal structures. A welcome invitation with a brilliant soundtrack.
BSÍ are Silla Thorarensen (drums &vocals) and Julius Pollux Rothlaender (bass guitar & toe-synths). You can download/stream through the link below.
Feature Photograph: Maria Carmela Raso