Nostalgia is what it used to be. The magic is here.
Norway’s Nina Mortvedt and Nikolai Hængsle (who also moonlights as a gun for hire for Todd Terje and Susanne Sundfør; his ace bass permeates this whole album) are Band Of Gold who, in 2015 with their eponymous debut, claimed the Nordic Music Prize beating heavyweights such as Bjork and Jenny Hval. No pressure for the follow-up then …
Themes of obsession and possession dominate kicking off with ‘Bring Back’, a slinky Aaaah ‘n’ Be hip-happening processed percussion aided and abetted by Mortvedt’s plaintive cries of activated memory muscle. A tri-part trip-hop down Wistful Way.
‘I wanna dance with you again’ is the best Summer sound ever released in Spring. Imagine Fleetwood Mac-era Tango in the Night with Mike Oldfield’s 1980s pop excursions and ponder the wander. Throw in fellow Scandipoppers ABBA’s nous and you have this confection perfection. The epitome of happy>sad>sappy this plea for one more dancefloor slowie and ‘to come back into my life’ is the soundtrack to sepia recollections and unfinished business. The song starts and departs as quickly (and emotionally) as the late Roger Bannister’s milestone achievements many sunsets ago.
Karen Carpenter’s harmonic hymning is all over ‘Away with you’; this is more than a Rumer covering Rumours. A departure with no turning back is evoked on the sparse folk of ‘Into the void’, those whispered words left hanging in the ether. A pause for rejection.
The ivories ominously build on ‘I can spot you in a hundred miles’: is it a tale of unrequited attraction or a trawl through the relationship remnants that linger longer? What begins as an inoffensive aria slowly goes on the harm offensive replete with menace and venom at the epicentre of the art-ache.
Echoes of Amanda Lear’s robo-disco reverberate on ‘Well who am I?’, grooving gyrations lavishly adorned with guitar-asphyxiation a la Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera.
In these hyper-sexualised anything goes (online … and stays for all eternity) snatched despatches of time, these pieces of 8 are a treasured reminder of when pop mirrored the innocence of life, refracting the follies of youth, the learning of codes and rites of passage required to negotiate adolescence, the mistakes and laboured lessons in love (c.f. ‘I lost my guiding star’ on the titular track). With dreampop that pops dreams this duo have delivered a superior work of amour fou.
From Freda Payne to freed of pain, all that’s left is Band of Gold.