Banjo. Strings. Piano. Guitar. Maybe the occasional trumpet. The acoustic over the electric; the organic over the synthetic. This is the shape of indie-pop today. From Songs:Ohia to The Mountain Goats to Paige France, Americana and folk have spread across the countryside in a blaze of unconventional instrumentation and unshaven singer-songwriters. If quiet is the new loud, a mountain-man beard is the new trucker hat.
Apparently the Atlantic Ocean didn’t stop this wildfire from besieging Europe. Amandine have checked in as Sweden’s offering to this renaissance with their sophomore release, Solace in Sore Hands. Unfortunately, they journey across the pond to offer nothing new to the mix, and instead deliver a homogenized blend of formulaic indie-pop.
“Faintest of Sparks” opens the album with banjo and glockenspiel and the lyrics “Started a fire with the faintest of sparks/sprung from the friction of two empty hearts.” Amandine don’t waste time setting a mood, instead opting to spin dark, pretty yarns of lovelorn weariness. The second track, “Chores of the Heart,” features the album’s high point – a waltz melody crescendos and fades with choruses that resemble many a standout Decibully track.
But from there on the disc suffers from suffocating sameness. The tempo rarely varies; the mood never changes. It’s a trap that ensnares many an aspiring indie band – develop a formula, write a few songs, record them, forget to pursue variety. This being Amandine’s second release, they’ve already spent their one pass in that department.
Solace in Sore Hands has its moments, but they’re lost amidst the 6/8 tempos and acoustic strings. Perhaps if Amandine hit upon a mood other than “wistful,” that’ll change. VS