Slim Loris – Love and Fear

In some places it is fashionable to make sweeping generalizations about the music scene in the country of origin of a band. In that dubious tradition I must report that it seems that Sweden trades largely in savage black metal and folky indie rock. Slim Loris is from the folky indie rock tradition. To lay the adjectives down a little think it might be more accurately described as folky indie alt rock. The singer has a tendency to sound like Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind fame. Their 60s influences are filtered through one or two layers of “influenced by the 60s” bands. Occasional drum flourishes sound like Sublime (Drummer Jonas Ellenberg has a side gig in a reggae band.). The folky bits sound like a less atmospheric and less self-assured Iron and Wine.

It’s a perfectly pleasant sound. The vocal harmonies are strong and lyrics lean a little towards the singer/songwriter end of things. The poetic descriptions of everyday situations and romantic entanglements aren’t bad, but they leave the songs without memorable choruses. I’ll admit that I’m not the most lyrically inclined person. I frequently listen to music where the lyrics are completely unintelligible. I’m still capable of being moved by words though, and none of this moves me. I’m not marveling at turns of phrase or extended metaphors. Very little reaches out and grabs me.

The same is true of the melodies and music. There’s no track I want to hear again when it’s over. I’m not compelled to revisit my favorite moments when the album is over. To say I don’t enjoy it while it’s playing wouldn’t be accurate, but I also don’t know why I’d reach for Love and Fear after I’m done reviewing it. There’s a semi-urgent guitar solo that stands out for a moment, but by the end of the album I can’t remember what song it’s in. I don’t find myself humming along to anything. There’s even some harmonica in “Kings and Queens.” I love harmonica! And it’s still not doing it for me.

There’s no real uptempo charger to shout along to and no slow burner or torch song to get lost in. It’s nice. It’s good. They’re the support act whose album you buy because they were awesome that you listen to a few times before slowly removing it from all your playlists, not because you hate them, but because you find you aren’t excited anytime one of their songs comes up. It’s not even that all the songs sound the same. They have rockier songs and folkier songs and wobbly, treated vocals. There are horns and pianos and guitars and drums. It’s just that none of it is particularly memorable.

If you need a pleasant, background album you could do much worse. If you have a chance to see them live I imagine they are more than worth whatever price is asked, but I’m just not connecting with this one.

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