Review: Linus Nordmark - "Songs"

Linus Nordmark - Songs
(Self-Released 2014)

Could Linus Nordmark's debut album signal a return to the former glory of Bandcamp's "dream pop" tag? Using only the most rudimentary pop components, the Swedish solo artist's material is a lovely look back at shoegaze circa 2011, the scene responsible for my love affair with reverb and fuzz. Liquescent droplets of clean guitar splash against a solid, glassy pane of throbbing keyboard drones. The drum machines are cold and mechanical, trimmed of any flourish or hint of improvisation. Existent only to propel warbling bass tremors forward, they are beautiful in a strictly utilitarian way. It's quite similar in texture to Craft Spells and The Wake. 

In a 16-song album that's shoegazey from start to finish, it's Nordmark's vocals that carry much of the weight of the music, ranging from a post-punk monotone to a dramatic new-wave howl. He chooses to open with one of his poppiest tunes, "The Fall", a bouncy song laced with interweaving guitar melodies and swelling keyboards. "Happy Place" is another pop gem, but is a slower track, void of any percussion. It's carried by plodding bass and spindly lead guitar, and could be mistaken for a demo track by The National. The greatest triumph on Songs, however, is "Isolate Me", featuring a towering chorus and blistering guitar riffs. Hopefully Nordmark releases more music soon, as I'm already a major fan of his after just downloading his album this morning.