Isak Danielson – Bleed Out

“A really good, albeit remarkably depressing, ballad.“

Tim: Remember Isak? He was the one who had that Hozier-esque song last month with the disturbing music video.

Tom: I couldn’t have told you his name, but I definitely remember that video.

Tim: Good, although it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a video for this one. Given how literally he took the title for that one, mind, it may be a good thing.

Tom: Nice of Kesha to let them borrow the slow piano opening of Praying. (Yes, I know that’s a bit too harsh, it’s a vague resemblance rather than any sort of plagiarism, but that’s a very, very predictable intro and first verse.)

Tim: Not as loud, powerful or “LISTEN TO ME” as last time; on the other hand, it does sound very nice throughout and build up to a great second chorus and beyond, all of which really works for me. The lyrics may be (are) somewhat (entirely) downbeat, but they fit with the music, combining together to make a really good, albeit remarkably depressing, ballad. I like it. With or without that predictability.

Isak Danielson – Power

“I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea.”

Tim: Some say the art of lyric writing is crafting mysterious or ambiguous ones, so that different people can add their own interpretations, and maybe use a music video to do even more with the various possibilities. Others, such as Isak, prefer a more prescriptive approach to these things, bringing all the subtlety of a two ton wrecking ball.

Tom: That is an wonderfully-choreographed, impeccably-shot, frankly beautiful video that has been ruined by appalling video compression. What a shame: if that was graded and handled a little better, you’d be able to see more than dancing black squares during the dark parts.

Tim: I’ll be honest, part of me is disappointed that she didn’t end up literally going at him with a Taser, or at the very least a cattle prod.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea, but if that’s what you’re into, then I’m not going to judge.

Tim: Fair’s fair, though, as what it lacks in interpretative possibilities it more than makes up for in sheer volume and emotion, almost begging for Take Me To Church comparisons on multiple levels. The vocal style, the cut back instrumentation, the backing vocals echoing the main chorus – this is basically a textbook emo male power ballad, and it sounds good for it.

Tom: I think the video helps sell it to a large extent: without it, yes, it’s very clearly aiming for Hozier and not quite getting there. But that’s an almost-impossible target to hit: getting this far is an achievement in itself.

Isak Danielson – Always

“I can appreciate both the vision and the technical skills, and I never want to watch it again.”

Tim: Nice number here for you, with a rather annoying video; you might want to put two-thirds of it off screen.

Tim: You see? I mean, maybe they’ve done it that way to disguise an occasional cut that became necessary, but still, it’s horribly disorientating.

Tom: That’s an absolutely genius effect by the director, I can appreciate both the vision and the technical skills, and I never want to watch it again.

Tim: The song’s pretty nice, though – admittedly the lyrics of the second verse are horrible, and should really be enough to get Isak and his co-writers put in solitary, but the chorus is particularly nice to listen to.

Tom: Yes, they absolutely are. I was put in a grumpy mood by the line “watching an episode of Friends”, which tipped the whole thing so over the line into ‘twee falsetto guitar rubbish’.

Tim: It’s a bit twee, yes, and if was in a grumpy mood this review might be entirely different with me dismissing it immediately as smug garbage, but I’m not in a grumpy mood. I’m in a good mood, and one that has me, on the third listen, swaying a little bit on my sofa as I type this.

Tom: I will grant you that it is a very, very nice chorus.

Tim: So in summary: yes. Most of the time, probably.

Isak Danielson – Remember

“Bit like New Labour and Iraq, really.”

Tim: A young Swede here with beautiful (but quite girly) hair, who seems to be channelling Morrissey, but please don’t let that put you off.

Tim: Standard story: wonderful relationship, A does something stupid, B gets upset, A stands there looking gormless, B runs away, A begs B to remember the good times, hoping for forgiveness. Bit like New Labour and Iraq, really. A miserable tune, it’s true, and yes, there’s quite a bit of work required to get through it – to be honest, if I wasn’t paying attention to the video I’d probably have got bored halfway through and given up. On the other hand, if I had given up, I’d have missed out on that lovely build that bubbles up through the middle eight – miserable it might be, but that’s a stunner of an ending.