“They like us! They really like us!” That’s what the rest of Lockerbie must have exclaimed after discovering that they had won a radio contest after breaking up, the result of a band member sending in a demo. Now reunited, Iceland’s newest hit band has become a guilty pleasure, boasting a sound remarkably like a pop Sigur Rós, or a cross between Jónsi and the band’s stated idols, Coldplay.
Lockerbie started off as a post-rock band, and the hallmarks of that genre are all over this release, from the big horns of “Laut” to the piano breakdowns of “Snjóljón” to the glockenspiel intro and outro of “Reyklykt”. Mini-climaxes and major crescendoes abound. But what’s not here demonstrates the distancing from post-rock: only one long song, no ambient interludes, no extended builds. Post-rock fans will probably go “%$#@!!!”, while pop fans – international pop fans, at least, unaccustomed to the sound of bands such as Hjaltalin and Retro Stefson – will likely go, “Woah.” Pop music has been lacking in new sounds as of late, and this blend of stratospheric strings, booming brass and happy harmonies will sound fresh to many. Pop tends to be the melting pot for the fringes, as witnessed by the co-opting of dubstep by the masses or the incorporation of bhanga into hip-hop. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course; the new sound of Lockerbie is safe by post-rock standards, but still adventurous for the mainstream.
While it is virtually impossible to resist an epic chorus, of which there are many here, the band shines strongest in its more subdued moments: the string finales of “Kjarr” and the bonus track, the acoustic guitar and wordless harmonies of “Sumar”. These tracks serve not only as lessons to the pop arena, but to the post-rock arena as well. By bringing both to the table, Lockerbie has demonstrated that each can benefit by incorporating elements of the other. (Richard Allen)
European release date: March 9
And you can still pre-order the limited vinyl edition on orange vinyl (only 100 made) on kapitaen-platte.de