Thursday, 9 June 2011


When Saints Go Machine is a new band for me, but they've been hiding their electro pop selves in Denmark since 2007. This album is their second, using German label !K7 to broaden their reach past Scandinavia.

Firstly, having listened to 'Church And Law' - the first single from Konkylie, released 6th June - about ten times more than I had done previously, and comparing it with the rest of the album as a whole, I can say that it's an absolute belter. The quaint introduction bursting into the bass hook that pulls you fantastically through the song, and the exceptional chorus - steeped with softness and warmth - add up to deliver an astounding number. The line "Hardened by church and law / The spell that binds us all", sung with a great deal of shivering passion, is something that resounds well after the song is finished. Yes, this is one to stick on repeat.

Just as I thought Konkylie was going to adhere to the same tempo of songs throughout, especially after the not-so-smooth 'The Same Scissors', the house beat of 'Jets' kicks in, with a tireless bass groove that drives it forward and provides much needed halfway-mark energy. Moving on then to the similarly paced 'Kelly', beginning a charm offensive with clunking xylophone synth and a wonderful opening line - "First time Kelly kissed a boy..." - its layered voices evoke a sunny almost tropical spirit, nostalgic as it is filled with happiness. The fade out at the end, and the vocal melody throughout, is very 80s pop, and this track exhumes its smiling body to dance with it at a colourful bar.

However, I'm unsure about some of the pseudo-strings and orchestral sounds that pop up here and there. This is most noticeable on the album's final two tracks; 'Who Made You Stand Still' (slightly spooky and out of place for the band, with parts that remind me of the soundtrack to The Machinist); and 'Add Ends'. However, we might excuse the latter, given its position as the final song, for trying to end on a classical chillout high descending into a hot night sound of chirping synths like insects and fragments of strings. Sadly not a strong song, fading away instead of burning out.

Despite that, it's a solid album overall. When Saints Go Machine's vocals have a distinctive tremolo-falsetto quality (and sounds more than a bit like Antony Hegarty), a definite highlight of their sound, and which arguably is at its best in 'Church And Law'. This instantly listenable feature saves the day in Enya-esque 'Add Ends', and displays a nice virtuosity in 'Parix' - a genre-bending song with ultra-trance synth and 80s marimba plinks combined with a firm, assertive, slow-motion dancehall beat. Konkylie's modern beats infiltrate a nostalgic spirit, producing an album that is half amazing, half not bad.

Saved by several strong songs, namely the first four ('Konkylie', 'Church And Law', 'Parix', 'Chesnuts') and my second favourite, 'Kelly', Konkylie is a decent second album that needs a few listens to get into. Not every song is great, but it's a smooth ride and a pretty, scenic journey that you'll be glad to have taken the time to have embarked on.

Listen to When Saints Go Machine on Myspace
...or on SoundCloud

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