Not On Top
Track & Field
A couple of years ago, I was the subject of a Parasol Records blog reaming regarding a supposedly disparaging review of the Swedish band Moonbabies and their weirdly poetic and confusing turns of phrase. My contention was that the language barrier, while entertaining, caused more metaphor derailment than literary epiphany. Enter Herman Dune to set the record straight on Scandinavia’s deft second-language navigation between insane and genius.
Not On Top is full of shambolic lo-fi folk and occasional co-opted pop melodies, wrapped around dark reminiscence of failed relationships combined with schizophrenic ramblings and abstract pop culture references. The title track boasts the depressing self-analysis, “twenty-seven and I’m fucked/well, it’s ten years from teenage and that’s a frigging lot.” “Had I Not Known” kicks off with a ridiculously witty line, “I read the script of Unbreakable on a rainy morning/it helped distract the state of mind that I was born in.” The stream-of-consciousness and confrontational “Whatever Burns the Best Baby” strolls through sci-fi territory: “…I was hidden in a cave and I was all freaked out/and there were Morlocks all around me and I couldn’t even fight.”
Of course, all this came as quite a surprise since my first exposure to Herman Dune was when they acted in backing band capacity on Julie Doiron’s superb Goodnight Nobody. Doiron contributes much appreciated bass and backing vocals throughout here, adding a sane balance to the pubescent yodel of David-Ivar and Andre’s nasal howl.
Not On Top is personal, unique and revelatory, and it is so much more than just meticulously constructed pop music. While the Moonbabies album I reviewed has stood the test of time and I still enjoy listening to their work, this album is an odyssey.
Track and Field: www.trackandfield.org.uk