Friday, 7 December 2012

Lena Philipsson - Dansa i neon (1987)

This is an album at times incredibly exciting, exalting, emotional or else just explosive. Singer Lena pushes herself into emotional extremes that I’ll never understand without enrolling in a Swedish night class. Drenched in romantic intensity and soaring vocal flourishes, I was not expecting something this advanced from a second album by someone so young (the only person younger at the time would have been Kelly Llorenna).

The well-executed Saknar dej innan du går is romantic, expressive and sharply melodic. Lena’s radiant (and at times slightly haughty) delivery of the chorus is restrained and just gorgeous. The track itself is atmospheric and uplifting. The folky texture juxtaposed with an ornate dance setting is a winning formula. 

Dansa i neon is immediately stark and hypnotic. With a trembling chorus that ignites into something ABBA would have been proud of, the production values are fully immersed in Lena's heart-felt tumult. I don't understand a word, but I'm thrilled to hear it.

Performing her seriously experienced feelings on Du är mitt liv goes over my head, but the performance is ravishing. The salsa textures are a climax and a half.

In such a torrid climate of humid pop romance fever, it's only expected some sort of slow number would wash ashore. Regn faller is poignant in ways I'll never realize, the production is minor and yet decorated with synths, ripples and a slightly Disney-esque odor (think more Aerial in a curtain-rope ensemble than Ursala all the while in a black ensemble). This could easily have been serviced to Tina Arena, but Lena lends her untouchable charisma and makes it her own.

Within two seconds of Den ende’s unmistakable intro, I had gasped "OH MY GOD". This really is something. Lena is alert and bellowing like a pro, the bass is throbbing and trumpets blow their load in expert fashion. Resign yourself to how amazing she is.

Cheerio wouldn’t have been my choice for a single, and singing "cherry o" sounds more like a new brand of yoghurts, but the delivery is pure theatre. Maudlin for some, by the time the guitar spikes itself in the middle it's somewhat dramatic. Pushing her pipes in heroic fashion.

Sommartid has a bracing, dramatic energy. 

Wistful midtempo Ah vad jag längtar is also fairly good.

Kom du av dej has a mostly delicate vocal propelled by gorgeous 80s electronic noises. It really is impressive. Lena bides her time before wailing whenever it sounds best to. During the chorus I keep singing Sandi Toksvig though.

Om jag fick is incredibly pretty. The shimmery keyboards soon build like a blocked toilet and the schlock gets overflowing with foreign matter (of the heart).

Säg det nu is a thick mix of footloose dance rhythms. A familiar-sounding arrangement, one of the only times there is a mere hint to aping other people’s sounds.

The harder discotheque edges of Det går väl an inhabit yet more dazzling dance dimensions

Jubilant lamentations of the disco-driven ballad Kärleken är evig lay all her love on the discothèque. Stylishly emphasizing melancholia on a triumphant sounding throb, to throw such a highlight this far into an album illustrates the epic scale we are dealing with here. 

Jag känner is more straight-up and anthem, sounding hysterical without forgetting to be catchy. Her wonderfully theatrical flair is utilized to full effect: a wounded wail, a soothing coo, a gasp. On this chorus I sing the name Kris Jenner.

Yet more invention thrown into her dance-pop cocktail formula, Jag sänder på min radio is hauntingly jaunty and uplifting. Shaken, stirred and drugged up to the 9s.

My mind was truly boggling as to how she was going finish herself off. Surprisingly, not on her own. Roping in someone male, who can sing and I couldn't google the name of, on Löpa linan ut, I was hoping for a dance-pop synth-driven monster: instead the mood is more pensive and mid-tempo, but she still manages to end the album on a high note. Its percussion sections sound like the fizzy hook to the Pointer Sisters' Automatic.

Truly brilliant album: sometimes dance-pop, sometimes drunk on ballads with a kick to them, but always rich and exquisitely executed. Invigorating.

No comments: