It’s summer, and whether or not the sun is shining it’s not really weather to be listening to icily cool electropop that chills you to the bone. Yet it’s this time of year that Swedish boy-girl duo The Deer Tracks have chosen to release part two of their musical trilogy, handily titled The Archer Trilogy Pt 2. However, if that electropop packs in anthemic chorus upon anthemic chorus then it’s perfect music for summer – and the duo of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors have produced a well-timed record of very nearly just that.
Pt 2 of the trilogy mixes the shamelessly poppy with darker electro moments across 9 tracks and does so successfully for the most part, with ethereal and androgynous vocals making it hard on occasions to work out whether it’s Lehnberg or Lindfors at the mic. Once you do make the distinction, it turns out Lindfors is the one that takes the lead on most songs.
A while back I wrote about Forest, another Swedish band, having the knack of marrying nature to their cold electro, and here again I find myself thinking about how a lot of Scandinavian music manages to stay connected to nature by communicating through the digital rather than the analogue. With The Deer Tracks, it’s more about a purity or clarity of vision and how this is communicated through their synthesised beats and chimes, euphoric piano and wispy vocals.
And what of that music? As I said, it’s a mix of light and dark, with the most enjoyable moments coming when Lehnberg and Lindfors scrape the sky with soaring choruses. ‘Fra Ro Raa / Ro Ra Fraa’ starts off with jittery bells and gentle harmonies before lurching into action with some low-end rumbling bass, and when we hit the chorus some triumphant Europop horns blare in along with synth strings, sending the track to the stratosphere as Lindfors sings “I’m just like you, I never know it when I’m hurtin’ / I am the weak one, who always ends up searchin’”. Similar to this is ‘Fa-Fire’, another track that starts slow before flying into dance-pop replete with handclaps and a sing-along chorus of “I cannot help it sometimes, I wanna break your neck / just to give you a reality check”, backed up by symphonic fireworks. Both tracks are constructed as perfect pop songs, and are bound to leave you with a mile-wide smile.
To counteract the sweet pop, there’s the gloomy trip-hop (yep, it’s back in fashion folks) of ‘Dark Passengers’, which glitches like prime Lali Puna, ‘Fall With Me’, a sweeping ballad of lost love, and closer ‘U-Turn’ which is an uncomfortable and stuttering cut-and-paste song, and a haunting way to end the album.
The highpoint of the record is perhaps the slow and stately piano ballad ‘1000 Vanda Kinder’. It’s sung entirely in Swedish (the only song on the record that is), and my knowledge of the language only stretches far enough to ask for coffee and sandwiches, and how to get to the Vasa Museet, but I know what a sad love song sounds like, and this is one. It’s a beautiful interlude, and while slowing the momentum of the early tracks it doesn’t feel out of place at all.
I would have suggested that The Deer Tracks might have been better off releasing their trilogy as one long player, or as a couple of EPs/mini-albums and dropping some of the slightly weaker songs, but you can’t argue with a band that has such a strong vision for the trajectory of their art and are willing to make the commitment to a triptych of records. The Archer Trilogy Pt 2 is a solid pop album with room for improvement, leaving me to hope that part three furthers the duo’s vision and hones their talents.