Album Review: Fågelle – ‘Den svenska vreden’: Experimental, poetic songs of inner rage and soaring beauty.

The Breakdown

Honest personalisation is at the heart of this album’s impact, it's an alchemy of poetry, songcraft and electronic textures.
Medication Time Records 8.8

It’s no lazy shortcut to describe Fågelle’s arresting new album as ‘quivering with rage’ as this phrase captures the record’s emotional complexity with chilling accuracy. ‘Den svenska vreden’, available now on Medication Time Records, finds experimental dark pop communicator Klara Andersson (aka Fågelle) expressing her own seething inner tensions in songs of raw beauty and restrained power. She describes the catalyst for this collection as ‘a subdued Swedishness that doesn’t hold space for flaring, tearing, wallowing rage but rather pushes it down from the surface and inwards’. So the intricate songs on the record ask and answer the questions ‘where does the rage go, and which forms does it take?’. This may sound like the remit for an album that’s weighed down by introspection but amongst the despair and anger there’s resolution and crucially glimpses of hope.

Take the hymnal ballad Ingenting (‘Nothing’) where the yearning delicacy of Fågelle’s voice almost shatters until the surging chorus and dramatic synth-soaked coda soundtracks her resilience. It’s some turnaround. Then there’s Kär i vem som helst (‘In Love With Whoever’) which follows this story of loss down a path of no regrets to eventual emptiness. The song has a stunning emotional upswing, flicking from pensive vocal and nervous electronics to a hook of anthemic dream-wave pop energy. Such melodic dynamism, uncannily close to A-ha comparisons, reveals the complex strands twisting through Fågelle’s music. For her experimentation can still embrace the orthodox with relish.

Dem svenska vreden’ also finds Fågelle fusing her other artistic influences ever closer together. She acknowledges that her producer Henryk Lipp (who also works with Anna von Hausswolff) was instrumental in encouraging her to bring the fragmented abstraction of her sound art into the song writing framework. The pair worked together on Andersson’s first full iteration as Fågelle, 2019’s Helvetesdagar, and on this new album their partnership continues to pursue an alchemy of poetry, songcraft and electronic textures.

Min yttersta punkt (‘My Outermost Spot’) highlights the merging of all these elements as it flows to a crescendo of orchestral scale. From stretches where the singer’s lone crystalline voice glistens against a crackling stillness, to the subtle march of staccato synths and layers of ethereal vocoder choirs, the track snowballs with a natural momentum. There is something earthy and fundamental here despite the grandeur, a contradiction that gets repeated on the bristling folksiness of Faglar (‘Birds’) as its simple tingling piano pattern struggles with the urgent thrust of swarming electronica.

You can hear whispers of Radiohead and Sigur Ros in Faglar, strong indie reference points that Fågelle has carried with her since starting as a guitar player in bands. Her diverse fretwork still threads through ‘Den svenska vreden’ embellished through her conglomerate of pedals and pads but her indie roots peep out once more on the pulsing rock balladry of Kroppen (‘The Body’). Featuring an icon from Fågelle’s youth Joakim Thåström, singer/guitarist with Sweden’s seminal 80’s alt rock bands Ebba Gron and Imperiet, the collaboration was for her ‘an unreal experience, a full circle moment’. White noise and rumbling radio signals, a creeping guitar chug and earthy harmonium hum set the tone but the song pivots on the contrast between Andersson and Thåström’s voices, Fågelle’s clear, unscathed, aching and her counterpart’s deep, worn, almost wearisome. It’s a track where the autobiographical resonance that underpins this record feels most exposed.

Such honest personalisation is at the heart of this album’s impact. On ‘Den svenska vreden’ there is no room for fantastical story-telling or third person assumptions, this is music fuelled by Fågelle’s visceral poetry and sung with the intuitive feel of a spoken word performance. The phrasing, the intense articulation of each vocal line is so intoxicating that there is a danger that the whole listen could become exhausting but Fågelle and and producer/co-composer Lipp’s feel for melody and finesse ensures you want to stay with them.

On Slavar (‘Slave’), as the desparate analogy unfolds, the pattering synth codes and organ droplets get swept away by gentle drumming and Fågelle’s fluid minimal guitar. These moments of elevation, where the sound opens out to let in some light, are realised beautifully throughout the whole record reaching some sort of pinnacle on the definitive closing song Jag går när jag är klar (‘I’ll Leave When I’m Done’). Nordic toned and almost traditional, with a vocal calling across a swelling glacial drone, the soundscape calmly emerges from the wilderness on a locomotive rhythm before disappearing over some notional horizon. There is a sense of closure to this final song but also a suggestion of continuation.

The echoes of late period Talk Talk often come to mind as ‘Den svenska vreden’ unravels but in stepping on from her more orchestral debut Helvetesdagar, Fågelle is forging something unique. That assured introduction of rhythmic intent and the integral weaving of found sound recordings adds new dimensions to the singer’s poetic reflections. Every snippet of creaking floorboards, dusty piano playing, bird song and late night train conversation is like a memento stitched into the fabric of Fågelle’s experimental canvas. Hopefully her use of such audio bric-a -brac will be even braver next time around but for now ‘Den svenska vreden’ is definitive enough…rage on.

Get your copy of ‘Den svenska vreden’ by Fågelle from your local record shop or direct from:

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