We have a lot of things to thank Sweden for: Cheap Monday jeans, ABBA, pretty blond people and Ikea. So Foreign Slippers, aka Gabi Frödén, must be feeling the pressure. Or maybe she doesn’t, and thinks the fact that she is from Sweden is totally irrelevant. Either way, Foreign Slippers has written a record that pulls you into her enchanting, hibernal world.
Avalanche has a charm and mystery which keeps you immersed and mesmerized. This is in no small part due to the delicacy and warmth of Frödén’s voice which can induce a near trance-like paralysis. Her lyrics often tell a different story of defiance and world-weariness. For example on ‘I Won’t Back Down’, Frödén sings with effortless grace about standing up to the challenges of life,“You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down. I’m going to stand my ground, won’t be turned around. And I keep this world from dragging me down.”
It is when things indulge too far on the pop side that lets the side down. Title track ‘Avalanche’ sounds like a Feist b-side, trying desperately to be a danceable pop song but compared with the other tracks, it sounds out of place. The subtly of the rest of the record provides an antidote to artists such as Florence and The Machine who’s panache for unnecessary wailing can be a distraction. Its the sincerity and simplicity of Avalanche that makes it such an absorbing and enjoyable listen.
Whatever this record may sometimes lack in originality, it is moments such as the refrain of ‘Hallelujah’ in ‘The War Is Coming’ where its beauty is to be found. Avalanche is a wistful, cinematic and charismatic record. A (near) perfect soundtrack for a long, cold winter.