Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review: 22 - Flux

 If you had the chance to take a listen to 2011's Kneel Estate EP, you may have already become truly acquainted with the sound of 22 and seen a more alternative out-of-the-box take on musical crafting, particularly when considering the band to come from Norway and not be influenced by Darkthrone, Mayhem, more Darkthrone and Varg Vikernes. No, 22 prove themselves to be a much more chilled out collective with more of a sound reminiscent of Muse, Radiohead or Neu! that even taps into some industrial elements with all power put towards creating strong melodies. Music to soundtrack the burning of churches this ain't.

 No, 22 has more skill in bringing an air of subtlety and wonder to the corners of Norwegian music as proven across their debut full length Flux. Across the ten tracks the band manage to craft songs that will make all listeners think twice with what they're presented with. The amount of directions that can be made from one song alone shows that a lot clearly ride on the minds of the band. Take the opener Oxygen. With a synthesized backdrop that is guaranteed to create some gentle suspense as to what happens next, the song builds into a range of soothing guitar lines from Magnus Børmark, that transcends into melodies that should belong to the 80's synthpop era but here sound like a total breath of fresh air. But with the sheer extent of the delicacy of frontman "Fox" (I'm sure that's not the first time I've seen someone use that as their performing ails.), there always seems to be a little something extra bubbling underneath.

 And this feeling can be found throughout the album.  Mind Vs. Mind and Chrysalis sound beautifully uplifting at surface but, the overall band performance suggests an air of brooding going on constantly and it really makes listeners want to explore the song in it's full nature. In doing so, a different kind of overall impact and tone can be found each time. But sometimes, you can't really let yourself get too into song explorer mode and sometimes it's best to be taken back to the kind of surprises that pounce round varying corners and the ability the band have to let Kneel Estate go from starting on a gentle spidery bassline and end with the creation of a gripping punk belter with the intensity of Refused.

 Oftentimes, it seems like what the band really want to do is unleash the same kind of oddball personalities that they display in their real lives into their music. This is clear since the collective amounts of synthesizer work and ability to write these sophisticated alt rock songs and go on to mix this post-punk finesse into the likes of I Am That I Am, a song that in it's songwriting structure wouldn't sound out of place on an album by The Cribs is not really part of the current pop rock standard. But the bands that have shaped this standard were the kind that weren't really those that enjoyed following any kind of given formula or ideals. And I do say this with Muse fairly protruding in mind.

 It's with the skill across Flux that 22 prove themselves to be a band capable of cutting edge songwriting that can go on to develop a truly unique and identifiable, but the question really is, is that sound fully worth holding on to and keeping with us full time? A very full devotion to discovering the most dynamic of alt rock bands and wanting something new is required to actually make one buy this album, otherwise the music is just pleasant, especially if you aren't in it to be fully focused on finding new experiences in each song. In such a sense, this album is definitely worthy of the reputation of an album made by proper musical enthusiasts for proper music enthusiasts. And no one else. Especially not fans of music typically associated with Norway, because this album is disgracefully un-trve.

22's Flux is out now via Best Before. 

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