Isak Danielson – I Don’t Need Your Love

“Compared to last time’s mellow melancholy this is quite the change”

Tim: I’m aware you’re not that great at remembering our past features, Tom, but I’d hope you remember Isak from when we featured him less than a month back.

Tom: Yes, absolutely, I 100% remember him, I definitely did not just click that link and find I had zero recollection of anything in it.

Tim: On the other hand, the style here is entirely different so it hardly matters either way.

Tim: Compared to last time’s mellow melancholy this is quite the change – defiant, powerful and upbeat, getting going with a fair amount of oomph right off bat, and it’s not long before the chorus comes along and carries it up more.

Tom: It is a bit ‘Strong Enough’, though, isn’t it? I suppose if you’re using ‘I am whatever enough’ in a chorus, there are only so many ways you can arrange it.

You’re not wrong, though, it is a cracking chorus.

Tim: There’s a lot of good stuff in here, really – the various backing vocals all work nicely, the drop out of the instrumentation on the way back in from the middle eight is an old trick but a good one.

Tom: I was going to point that out: some of the clichés still work.

Tim: And those are some great long notes he’s hitting at the end there. All in all, not a bad piece of work.

Tom: Maybe I’ll remember it this time. Or maybe I’ll just remember Cher.

Isak Danielson – Light Up

“Yes, it’s a sad one, and yes, it’s a slow one, and yes, I’d normally chuck it straight in the bin, but OH, BOY.”

Tim: “After dealing with anxiety for many years, I decided to write about my experiences. The result came to be ‘Light Up’. A song about the strength that comes from sharing the things we feel.” Yep, it’s a melancholy one, but it does sound lovely so have a listen.

Tim: So, yes, it’s a sad one, and yes, it’s a slow one, and yes, I’d normally chuck it straight in the bin, but OH, BOY does the instrumentation make it worth it.

Tom: I was about to ask “why on earth have you sent this”, and then the chorus kicked in.

Tim: Yes – I should admit that I didn’t start paying much attention to the music for the first minute or so (until then I’d been working out whether that was the artwork or whether Isak was just very, very good at standing still and looking zoned out) so I didn’t get put off but the lack of anything massive under the first verse. When I eventually paid attention, though, the chorus was on, and, well, the drums and the piano and LORD ALMIGHTY that fabulous string section were all there sounding absolutely gorgeous.

Tom: I always feel a bit bad talking about music like this, because my reaction is almost always “sure, that’s okay, I guess”. This is, at least, a bit above that: in short, I can see why you like it, even if it doesn’t quite work for me.

Tim: It carries on getting bigger and better throughout the second verse and chorus, and I really just can’t get enough of it. It’s marvellous.

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.