Western Soul

Ace Fu

For as strong an international musical voice as Sweden is growing recently, its neighbors, Finland and Norway, are remaining pretty well below the radar. The spastic, nominally-clothed Norwegian duo Bonk might go some distance towards garnering attention for the Norsemen. With lightning-quick punk riffage, a sublime power-pop sense of melody and a garage rock aesthetic mixed with a gonzo side usually found only in Japanese music exports, the band sounds like what you’d imagine a 21st century Viking would put on to get amped up for the pillaging. Not since Ash and Supergrass’s warp speed entrance into the brit-pop scene in the mid-’90s has there been such a heady, disorienting blast manic playfulness able to sustain an entire album.

Of course, simply being Supergrass or Ash circa 1995 in 2006 would be boring. Bonk undercuts the brit-pop comparison by exceeding the genre’s expectations. The duo’s absurd vocal interplay, from the occasional spoken word verses on “Sarah” to the freestyle yelps of the opener “The Front Page,” pays more reverence to the moment rather than coherence, and the light white-boy funk that colors some of these songs does as much to induce dancing and the forays into noisy atonality as it does to prevent it. Western Soul is a descent into a rock madness, so complete you’d hardly believe you could’ve found it in America let alone Norway.

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