[sic] Magazine

Liima – ii

“No overdubs”. Everyone’s bragging about it these days. No doubt capturing certain types of composition in single takes is mightily impressive and the sentiment holds for parts of Liima’s lush debut ii. It’s a band formed by the current Efterklang line-up plus Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. And, in places, ii evokes the emotional synth-pop you might expect of its creators, but Liima are often a darker, more experimental proposition as well. For each of ii‘s many surprises, however, so too is it on occasion not experimental enough, repeating tricks too often, flirting with the outright bland on cuts like “Russians” and then with the overly tasteful on lightly psychedelic album closers “Black Beach” and “Change Of Time”. Needless to say there’s not much to celebrate about avoiding a tracking and mixing process only for the results to be a little dull.

But enough with the negativity because ii is also pretty mesmeric when it settles down and finds a groove. The sensible synth-play in “Amerika” keeps the glitches and chiptune scales to a minimum, intelligent electronic pop oscillating between late-night dither and Casper Clausen’s startling vocal range. In this track alone it veers from a near-spoken yelp to a velvety croon. Elsewhere he unleashes uncertain falsettos and choral harmonies. Add to this the band’s rich palette of mad FX chatter, a few blatant drones and some killer bass tones and Liima suddenly seem a lot more exciting. New wave shuffle “Trains In The Dark”, for example, which starts life like glittery Twin Shadow pop, simply comes alive with the blasting introduction of distortion.

From its svelte pop to its MPC samples and abstract field recordings, there’s plenty about ii that’s unexpected. Plenty that’s expected too. Its musicianship. Its concept. Its art direction. They’re the glue that the word Liima translates to in Finnish. It’s only when chaotic solvent begins to strip the bonds of order, though, that ii becomes an album really worth listening to. And that doesn’t happen quite often enough.

Best track: “Trains In The Dark”

~ii is released March 18th 2016 via 4AD.~