Album Review: Korallreven - An Album By Korallreven

An Album by Korallreven is unfocused, funny and strange. And that’s why it’s a triumph. Korallreven aren’t afraid to have fun and try their hands at everything, and it’s refreshing to see a band not taking themselves too seriously.
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An Album by Korallreven is unfocused, funny and strange. And that’s why it’s a triumph. Korallreven aren’t afraid to have fun and try their hands at everything, and it’s refreshing to see a band not taking themselves too seriously.
KORALLREVEN

B+ | 11.15.11 | Acephale | Stream | MP3 | CD | Vinyl

An Album by Korallreven is the unimaginatively titled debut from Swedish dream pop duo Korallreven, but don’t let it fool you - this record is far from unimaginative. Daniel Tjader and Marcus Joons (of The Radio Dept.) have used their vast imaginations to record an eclectic, psychedelic, genre-defying album. After a few minutes of listening, the real reason for the title starts to become clear: Tjader and Joons are refusing to take things too seriously.

This isn’t to say the album is a joke - there are a number of perfectly crafted pop songs on An Album by Korallreven. However, there are also many bizarre, apparently ironic, ones. For example, the trippy ‘Keep Your Eyes Shut’ begins inexplicably with a clip of dialogue, presumably taken from a film, which is then followed by the words “a dream within a dream” continuously repeated, accompanied by the sound of midi trumpet. Not much else happens; it’s like a song that the character Howard Moon would start singing in an episode of The Mighty Boosh.

And it’s just as enjoyable. As is the case with many of the songs on the record, rather than coming across as unintentionally corny, ‘Keep Your Eyes Shut’ feels tongue-in-cheek. Another example of this is the ridiculous, synthesized guitar and chimes used on the chilled out ‘The Truest Faith’. Pop music used to employ these sounds seriously, and Korallreven are simultaneously paying homage and poking fun. And they’re managing to make great music at the same time.

Although Korallreven have a definite it’s-all-fun-and-games approach to music, they also have a competitive streak. Second track, ‘Sa Sa Samoa’, is centered around Julianna Barwick's sublime choral chanting, and the result is breathtaking, sounding like the soundtrack to Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. Album highlights, ‘Comin’ Closer’ and ‘Honey Mine’ are outstanding, clear-cut pop songs, and will likely go on to define 2011. The former has a synth hook and snare beat that will burrow deep into the back of your mind, refusing to leave for weeks, while the latter is a seductive dub groove, vaguely reminiscent of Blondie’s Autoamerican era.

An Album by Korallreven is unfocused, funny and strange. And that’s why it’s a triumph. Korallreven aren’t afraid to have fun and try their hands at everything, and it’s refreshing to see a band not taking themselves too seriously. Ending with a nine minute track of ambience (‘Comin’ Down’) may have been a step too far, but overall the record is slick, playful and irritatingly memorable.

Stream 'An Album by Korallreven' in full here.
B+ | 11.15.11 | Acephale | Stream | MP3 | CD | Vinyl