Monday, 28 January 2008

THE LIONHEART BROTHERS: 50 Souls And A Discobowl

This year’s Norwegian saviours of pop begin “50 Souls And A Discobowl” at the point where most other groups would end it, with unending drum crescendos and a purply speedy rush of what sounds like the collected middle eights of Stephen Sondheim jammed into a pocket-friendly pack of TicTac mints, careering like the happiest of kids up and down the semitone scale. Sounding nothing like anything that would be played in a 2008 disco – and all the better for it – Lionheart frontman Marcus Porsgren sings slowly and dazedly about his brightening vision of communal dancing, adding kisses of vibraharp and shakers along the way, chewing his mouth in politely rabid expectation – “And glamorous clllll-othes” he sings like Sufjan trying to smuggle into Johnnie Ray – before reasonably rampaging into the circuitously ecstatic chorus: “We meet, we integrate/We gaze, point out my mate/We feel, we love and hate/We kiss, we separate/We heal, we re-relate.” The “point out my mate” is the key interjection here, of course, paradise grounded in relatable social norms even when the norm is to be as abnormal as possible and/or permitted. After a long-ish instrumental break, featuring brass, flute and violin unisons, Porsgren returns with one Signe Stranger on theremin-like harmonies, and again there’s the rush to, or away from, the door; claustrophobically celebratory, like the Go! Team trapped in the lift with the Flaming Lips, Robin Sohrabi-Shiraz’s four-part horn arrangement discreet enough to sound like a jabbed Bontempi keyboard. Were that not enough, the melancholy euphoria is then augmented by cyclical figures from Nils Thore RÇ¿seth’s violin, followed by Sigrid Lien’s viola, which twirl into themselves, above the reliably steady Farfisa organ, to present a spectacle of Rachel Unthank and her mates integrating with Stereolab. All climax, all push, all anxiety – and all refereed immaculately by drummer Peter Rudolfsen – “50 Souls” reminds me a little of those immediate post-New Pop Brit indie singles (think Cook Da Books and similar, or maybe even “Palm Of My Hand”-period Pale Fountains) ecstatic on a low budget and restores an unexpected microstar of flavour to this openly promising year.