2011 has been the year, more than any preceding one, that has seen independent music triumph. Without a doubt. The evolution of music online, especially, has brought about more than an abundance of new talent, whether independent or through a new breed of taste-making labels that have profited from the many new methods of distribution. Cascine, one such label, can testify as much. Their 2011 has seen salivation-inducing releases from the likes of Jensen Sportag, Southern Shores, World Tour to name but a few. An offshoot from Sweden’s Service, they are a testament to the rise of new, esoteric pop in all of its forms. So, at this tail-end of the year, it makes sense that one of their final releases comes from one of their home-away-from-homeland’s newest melody merchants, The Whendays.
From the opening bars of ‘If I Wait’, it’s obvious that The Whendays offer the kind of sound that fits perfectly into the already formidable Cascine canon, albeit with a darkened hue to counteract their peers’ neon fuzz. Sliding in on a darkly romantic haze of plucked synth noise before being joined by a distant, lustful vocal and salacious guitar line, the Swedish duo have crafted – unintentionally – what sounds like an ode to the softer beginnings of a muted, Gosling-featuring action film. The sullen vocals work perfectly with the downtrodden heart of the songs’ melodies, as if the duo were perfectly primed to walk out onto an 80s stadium stage, from their very inception. ‘Pckt’ proves as much – with the almost secretive vocal howls slightly more reminiscent of The Weeknd’s R’n'B odes, acting as a loving but distant partner to the triumphant balladry of ‘If I Wait’.
Whilst the pair’s strengths may well lie in those shadier, more antisocial corners, they’re counterbalanced by the EP’s alternate more upbeat moments. ‘Namnlos’ sits, oddly, somewhere between the classic Warp synths of the 90s and a new romantic album filler – like Boards of Canada transposing Spandau Ballet. Somehow, it all still fits into the molasses-like pace of the rest, but it’s left to lead single ‘Untru Love II’ to tidy up the pieces of seemingly bereft soul and filter them back into something more positive. Where its musical counterparts offered more oblique, sensual tones, ‘Untru Love II’ is as close as the duo come to a pop onslaught. It’s an interpretation of pop at its most decadent and classic – stopping under a breathy interlude to find its chorus footing as wails.
Whilst it may not – yet – be their most potent statement of intent, there’s sure to be more of this kind of warped pop to come from The Whendays. Their attempts at proving that pop can be as filled with as much intelligence and soul as any other kind of music come as a refreshing break from the often too-linear norm. Once those attempts become outright killer pop songs, harnessing the sensuality and melody they obviously have to offer, there’s sure to be more and more heard about them.