When did pg. lost become this melodic? I wonder as I delve into the opener of the Swedish quartet’s latest album. “Ikaros” is a lovely piece, but so wavy, so rolling, so unexpected. The guitars are intact, the electronics remain present, the builds and the drops apparent; yet there’s also a refrain sweet enough to paste the wings back on the fallen dreamer, and a full-minute coda as tender as a cool cloth on the brow. But when the second track begins with a blast, all doubts are dispelled, and I zero in on the name of the album: Versus.
Versus is an album of purposeful opposites, but post-rock / post-metal fans need not dismay. There’s plenty of each here, rocking and the rolling, riffs and refrains. Yes, you can have both; according to the band, they are not “irreconcilable.” Granted, some might not even call them opposites, but shades, as each retains a healthy amount of energy. One needs not look far to find corollaries in the modern world. While voting issues are yay or nay, up or down (Brexit, the American presidential election), a political choice does not make people opposites. Most people know at least one couple who has managed to stay together despite having different opinions. In the same way, this album demonstrates great cohesion while balancing different approaches. “Monolith”, for example, contains a synth line that would not be out of place in an 80s pop hit, and the title track begins with a fair imitation of a church organ, but the album as a whole avoids the mainstream. From this we can infer that the band has a large umbrella, under which all are welcome. Can we say the same about any country today?
While pg. lost’s music contains a healthy amount of aggression, the emotion never topples into anger. The band seeks to soothe at times, to stir up at others, often within the same song. This all leads up to “A Final Vision”, a harmonic convergence of guitars that speaks directly to the soul. The measured drums of the second minute imply that all is well, or at least can be well ~ this is, after all, a vision. While many will listen without reading the band’s intentions, it’s likely they will still intuit the message, an alternative to the gloom and doom spread by other sources. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 16 September