Choir of Young Believers
Apr 16, 2012 Web Exclusive
Danish outfit Choir of Young Believers' second LP mines breezy folk, synth pop, progressive narratives, and electronic experimentation for inspiration, somehow wrapping it all tightly up in a streamlined package that threatens to spill out from its modest trappings. It probably shouldn't work, but it does—incredibly well, to boot—all while tapping into this overwhelming sense of spaciousness that's somehow still eerily intimate.
A slow build opens the record with "The Third Time," Jannis Noya Makrigiannis' pining tenor giving way to moody strings and a burst of zonked-out synthetic weirdness in "Patricia's Thirst." The crux of the record is the rolling, 10-minute "Paralyse," which shifts courses several times throughout the track; it also boasts several nifty production tricks, Makrigiannis' voice warping and folding in on itself at points as if we're listening to it on a melted mixtape absentmindedly left cooking on a dashboard. "Paint New Horrors" is more sanguine and sunny, packed with a more even-tempered longing. Rhine Gold weighs in at a healthy 55 minutes, without relying on prosaic patterns or exhausting jam detours. As expansive as it all is, it's very tightly composed.
Rhine Gold manages to sound little like anything else that's arrived in recent years. With lead singer Makrigiannis' aloof vocals daringly clearing trails through swaths of rich synthesizer and grandiose orchestral pop accompaniment, it stealthily slips into a sea of cool detachment rarely heard since David Bowie's Berlin period, particularly in the funky outsider vibe given off on Low. At its most morose, it recalls the weary, sun-faded blues of Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue. Riveting and unpredictable across multiple plays, Choir of Young Believers has expanded upon the blueprint outlined on their well-crafted first album and channeled it into a sophomore release that's really outstanding. (www.myspace.com/choirofyoungbelievers)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 7/10