You may already know of David Fridlund as the frontman of the Swedish indie pop band David & the Citizens. Recently, he recorded a solo album called Amaterasu, which is very similar to his work with the Citizens yet somewhat simpler. While I’ll admit to not having heard much of their material, the songs I have heard were grand compositions with mutltiple layers of instrumentation that created an orchestral feel similar to Ben Folds’s music. David Fridlund’s solo material has some of that unabashed extravagance, but overall the compositions are more down to earth and somewhat minimalist.
However, there are three things that have remained unchanged between the two projects. One is David Fridlund’s somewhat unconventional vocal delivery. His singing voice is one of those things that you’ll either love or hate; you’ll either love it for being evocatively honest and down to earth or hate it for being simple and unrefined. The second thing that remains unchanged is Sara Culler’s frequent contributions. Her voice is probably acceptable to more people because of her sweet, smooth delivery. The third thing that hasn’t changed is Fridlund’s bitter lyrics that often defy the tune over which they’re sung.
For example, “April & May” has a playful, light-hearted tune conveyed by the gentle intonations of the piano that makes one think of the pleasantness of springtime. There is also some beautiful harmonization between Sara Culler and David Fridlund. However, most happy songs don’t start off with the lines, “Caught like a fish out of water / a hand in the fire, a heart on display,” or pleadingly desperate chorus that goes, “April & May are you ok? / talk to me, say I don’t have to go that way / pictures in frames – all misplaced.”
Songs like “White Van” and “Busride & Carsick” sound a bit more like previous works by the Citizens than other tracks on Ameterasu. “White Van” is one of the more conventionally arranged songs on the album and keeps with the trend of the tune defying the lyrics. Once agains, Sara Culler provides a beautiful performance.
However, “Busride & Carsick” is a little less conventional and the tune relates to what is being conveyed in the lyrics. This song has a slightly erratic structure and definitely has a hectic feel to it. If I were to make a mix CD called “Songs for Rush Hour Traffic,” this song would make the list. And lyrics convey feelings of chaos as well. I interpret it as being a song about being unable to get away from somewhere and someone. First it starts out describing the town, “Down where the road turns / and the buildings grow high like rockets / Shooting into the sky, in the countryside,” then describing the escape and whom he’s leaving, “bus ride and carsick and lovesick; that’s when I felt it / thank you darling for being a friend / next year this time, I’ll see you again,” and then later in the song, “back in that small-town where the stupid is king, / smart kiss the ground.” It strikes me that he doesn’t want to be near this town or the person he’s talking about in the song (most likely a lover of some sort). And yet he keeps ending up back in that same town no matter how many times he leaves. A very bitter song and definitely one of the best tracks on Amaretasu.
Buy David Fridlund’s solo debut Amaterasu
David Fridlund – April & May David Fridlund – White Van David Fridlund – Busride & Carsick
On another note, I hate having to repost when the previous entry was eaten.