Mind Expanding Poplicious Psychedelic-Folk.
I thought my musical tastes were eclectic, but they are nothing like those of my friends at Hemifran in Sweden, who keep sending me large parcels of eclectic CD’s that cover the musical spectrum in ways not seen since the heady days of Volume and Oz Records in the backstreets of Newcastle during my formative teenage years. .
The absolute gem this month is the double album, Second Thoughts from Sweden’s Klas Qvist aka Citizen K.
Teased by the enigmatic album cover I delved in without looking at the press release.
Wow….and indeed WOW!
Disc #1 opens with the twee sounds of birds twittering just before a mournful cello slowly leads us towards a heady late 60’s influenced intense song called Mindexpander 1 & 2 and memories of long, lonely nights in my bedroom wearing huge stereo-headphones ‘trying to discover the meaning of life via music’ came flooding back.
Track #2 Song of Adjustment begins sweetly enough but quickly builds and builds until it reaches a wailing crescendo; which is quite an achievement in under 3 minutes.
Qvist claims to have immersed himself in the Beatles White Album prior to recording this, and to some extent I can hear that in the diversity of songs on offer; but so many other bands from that era like The Moody Blues, King Crimson and more recently Electric Light Orchestra are here too.
Citizen K give us huge sweeping melodies like Train of No Forgiveness and King of Second Thoughts; but temper these with dark introspective Folk ditties like Floor 13.
Disc #2 starts as if it may turn into a concept album; but doesn’t mercifully. Track #1 In Holland is a delicious song featuring Qvist not only singing but somehow managing to play the Grand Piano, Hammond Organ, Keyboards, acoustic guitar AND electric guitar simultaneously…..quite some feat! This leads into Wasps & Cars then Dutch Coffee, which are something of a minor trilogy; but are immediately followed by the Ben Folds inspired So This is Life.
I stand by my lifelong mantra that there is no such thing as a ‘great double album’ and Second Thoughts is no exception; with at least 8 or 9 of the 23 tracks being ‘filler’ or ‘fluff’; but then again these (nameless) songs could have been a separate album aimed at a different market.
For me, the stand out tracks here are Something Truly Magic, This Is Our Town and especially King of Second Thoughts; all of which showcase Qvist and friends myriad of talents and bode well for future releases.
Now I think about it, there is an almost Musical Theatre ‘feel’ to Second Thoughts, with all of the pieces telling their own story but when added together you get a much bigger story by the end….or perhaps I’m over thinking it.
Now I’ve played Second Thoughts twice I’m still struggling to get my head around it as this isn’t what I normally listen to…..but will certainly keep it close at hand for when I need to disappear inside the music for a couple of hours.
Released January 27th 2017