On the 2nd of April, LearningToDive released debut album Norwegian Pop. When I saw the title of the album, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve long been a fan of the atmospheric sounds that have been emerging from Scandinavia and the areas surrounding, so I was pleased to hear the glorious soundscape in the opening track ‘I Stand on an Ice Floe’, which sets the tone for the rest of the album perfectly. What follows is a ten-track journey of intoxicating production in expertly written songs with anthemic melodies and poignant lyrics.
LearningToDive is the new artistic identity of New Zealand based artist Bravo Bonez. This project sees him steer away from his previous output and focuses on the more serious aspects of Bravo’s life. He explores a wide variety of themes and the tracks are packed full of social commentary.
There has been a massive resurgence of the sounds of the 1980s with familiar synth notes coming to the fore once again. Norwegian Pop stands as a love letter to the innovative decade, with homage paid to the best sounds and genres of the 80s including post-punk, synth-pop, New Wave and the New Romantic movement.
A highlight for me is the truly irresistible ‘Promenade’. With additional vocals by Alba Rose, the track incorporates the best of the 80s with its chilled beat and dark, driving bass and synths. The vocal delivery from both Bravo Bonez and Rose fits the track like a glove and doesn’t fool the listener with its laid back style, instead forcing them to pay attention.
Norwegian Pop is a triumphant blend of the very best of a golden age of music with unforgettable moments such as the epic use of saxophone, which melts into the track ‘High and Dry’ in the most perfect way. An incredible throwback to the age of synth-pop, ‘High and Dry’ shows off Bonez’s songwriting prowess with thoughtful, poetic lyrical content and a vocal delivery that has something Nick Cave about it; a kind of melodic spoken word on the luscious backdrop of atmospheric and flowing synths. The production on this track is second to none also, as it starts as a sparse soundscape with ominous whistling and synth melody before building to a cathartic climax.
This album is one to sit back and enjoy from start to finish – you won’t regret it.
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