You’ve got to love Scandinavian musicians. Renowned for their eccentricities, it seems that any artists from northern Europe who have broken into the UK underground or mainstream scenes in the last twenty years brings with them a stunningly individual aesthetic and a wholly Scandinavian sound. It’s as if there’s a secret music school somewhere deep in central Sweden churning out clever, independent artists just for fun of it, or maybe there’s something special in the fresh air that blows in off the Artic Ocean. Whatever it is they have it, and whether it’s Bjork, Fever Ray, Likke Li, Röyksopp
Mouth to Mouth is the first single to be released from Norwegian singer-songwriter, Kate Havnevik’s upcoming Album – YOU. And almost immediately you can hear the Nordic influences. It begins with a natty, synthetic glockenspiel and scratchy drums, before Kate’s overproduced and rasping vocals crash in over seemingly autonomous guitar strokes, being somewhat reminiscent of a youthful Bjork. You’d be forgiven for thinking Mouth to Mouth sounds characteristically like a Frou Frou track too because the single’s co-writer, Guy Sigworth was actually one half of the electro-pop duo in the early 2000’s. The renowned composer has also worked with the likes of Bjork, Madonna and Alanis Morrissette, and he certainly didn’t leave anything he learnt from collaborating with them at home the day he turned up at the studio to work with Havnevik. Her earlier album, Melankton listens a lot more like a Kate Bush record, focussing on classical instruments and her lyrical prowess rather than the inorganic synthiness Mouth to Mouth incorporates, which suggests her upcoming album might be striving toward a more prominent, electronic sound. Mouth to Mouth is an electro-pop single through and through; its minimalistic use of computerised sounds, and relatively simple beat, combined with her unusual and melodious voice make it an easily accessible song. It’s fairly enjoyable in its simplicity, however, without being either greatly ambitious or technical, it lacks some of the originality and vision that Havnevik’s Scandinavian predecessors possessed in volumes.
Heavily influenced by Sigworth and his experiences with glamorous pop-singers past, Mouth to Mouth struggles to bring anything ground-breaking to the metaphorical music table, or even to make a real lasting impression. However, with that said, her previous album Melankton proved that she has a real aptitude for classic song writing and that she’s endowed with an instantly delectable voice. So I wouldn’t write off her upcoming album YOU just yet, I’m absolutely sure it will contain at least a few snippets of that musical mysticism and Nordic ingenuity we have come to take for granted from our strange, sophisticated and unilaterally sexy, Scandinavian cousins.