It’s been two years since I reviewed Norway’s Stina Stjern‘s extraordinary album ‘Kap Herschell’ – describing it as an enigmatic, haunting masterpiece that seems to capture the Arctic chill of the north while offering a warm enveloping refuge. Backseat Mafia is honoured to premiere Stjern’s new single ‘Me and the Moth’ off her EP ‘The Devil’ due out on Friday, 24 April 2020.
‘Me and the Moth’ floats and shimmers: Stjern’s exquisite voice drifting above the mix in hypnotic layers with a haunting melody. The instrumentation is strangely foreboding yet celestial. There is an indefinable sixties tone – think of Serge Gainsbourg’s work with Jane Birkin – orchestral and expansive with delicate beautifully woven vocals that entice and shine:
‘The Devil’ EP maintains the innovation and dream pop/psych fugue. Second track ‘The Curator of Truth’ is punctuated by classical guitars and a resurfacing sample and an insistent synth bass resolve. It’s mysterious and haunting (as is most of Stjern’s work) with unconventional structures that still create an accessible and memorable indie pop single.
It must have been a challenging picking a single from this EP. ‘The Humiliating Act of Being Human’ has a divine pop sweetness that recalls the pop storytelling of Belle and Sebastian: melodic and melancholy with an undercurrent of darkness (underpinned by the squalling feedback that seeps under the surface). This segues into the seven minute ‘Endless Crescendo Into Nothing’ that begins by echoing the spoken word elements found in M83 – an eighties pastiche – then morphs in to a slow burning fuse with Stjern’s ethereal voice gliding over an organic electronic bedrock, where injections of sounds and noises disturb and recede.
This is truly an epic EP: it stuns and seduces with its melodic strengths and its unexpected turns. It is a incredible melange of contemporary commercial pop sensibilities mixed with musicianship that is bold and creative.
Stjern says of the themes of the EP:
Me and The Moth” is a little song about being involuntarily separated from everything and everyone you love. This is a little reflection on the passage in time when you struggle to make the grass greenest on your own side of the fence regardless of conditions
It is really hard to define Stjern’s work other than to emphasise its uniqueness and indelible craft. If comparisons had to be made, for the old school readers, she has the enigmatic style of Kate Bush mixed in with the pop sensibilities and electronic mastery of Sarah Cracknell from St Etienne and M83: a heady mix of melody and style with an indie approach. The result is an intelligent dream pop masterpiece.
‘The Devil’ was composed and produced by Stjern and musician and producer Kyrre Laastad and is out on Friday, 24 April 2020 through Oslo’s boutique Sellout! Records and through the usual download/streaming sites.
Feature Photograph: Amelie Svit