[sic] Magazine

Efterklang – Altid Sammen

The Danes may not quite have the marketing nous of Sweden when it comes to come to Nordic indie-pop, but they’ve always had the tunes if you care to listen. Luckily, 4AD continue to right that wrong by giving deserved exposure to Efterklang. The trio’s fifth studio album in 15 years (excluding similarly expansive and lush LPs under the Liima moniker), but crucially also their first in seven years, Altid Sammen (meaning “Always Together” – the band explaining that “We’re all connected, across nations, age, sex and gender”) has been a long-time coming, but it’s been worth the wait.

Too many of Casper Clausen, Mads Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg’s previous work has been overly tasteful and, consequently, sometimes a little bit dull. Not so Altid Sammen. Their first album sung entirely in Danish, it’s also a successful collaboration with B.O.X., a Belgian baroque ensemble led by Pieter Theuns. This translates to Altid Sammen being an album as rich and emotional as any in the Efterklang catalogue, the band’s signature arrangements as swooningly satisfying as they are experimental.

Remaining relatively minimal all the same, first single “Vi Er Uendelig” introduces Clausen’s dreamy, high-register vocal to light organ drones and intimate composition, classy piano parts and melodic woodwind caressing Danish model Helena Christensen in the accompanying video, itself – in an odd turn – an homage to Johnny Hallyday‘s 1964 performance of “Le Pénitentier”. And, unless you happen to speak the language, there’s an intangible otherworldliness to the lyrics too, Clausen hitting lower notes on the melancholy follow-up, “Supertanker”, another skilfully arranged collection of downbeat field-capture and light electronics.

Brauer’s oscillator and keys are then given a more determined work-out on the more confident “I Dine Øjne”, Stolberg’s solemn bass guitar growing in volume alongside them too. Tempered horns later let the slow-burn ambience of “Hænder Der Åbner Sig” blossom into organic post-rock cinematics, and a heavenly choral line shimmers majestically amidst the slo-mo dream-pop of “Verden Forsvinder”. Smoky, late-night brass in “Under Broen Der Ligger Du” then sets up a super-chill finale, the pretty seven-minute closer “Hold Mine Hænder” a stream of atmospheric piano with symphonic dressing, the melodic vocal this time coming late on and backed by gorgeous backing harmonies. These are tricks designed to let Altid Sammen linger long in the memory after it’s stopped spinning and they’re tricks that work. Altid Sammen may well be the best and most consistent Efterklang album to date.

Best track: “I Dine Øjne”

~Altid Sammen is released September 20th 2019 via 4AD.~