Gives You: Music From the Dance Performance Pudel
After Belle & Sebastian’s near abysmal turn at soundtracking Todd Solondz’ Storytelling, I’ve been leery when any of my favorite acts get involved in scoring regardless of their strengths as songsmiths. It’s unfair to equate Frida Hyvonen’s Pudel project with a film soundtrack, but it’s at least far enough outside of her comfort zone of writing and performing for things to go quickly awry, but she pulls together a 10 track, 30 minute album based on a dance perfomance together quite beautifully. Where her debut Until Death Comes relied on stark introspection and percussive piano pounding, Pudel yields the heavy-hearted pathos to a more graceful longing and regret set against a lush backdrop of strings and brass with Hyvonen’s piano as the centerpiece. On a music level alone it’s a direct descendant of Nico’s great Chelsea Girl. Hyvonen’s voice and melodies shine throughout the lyric tracks on here as well. “Fall is My Lover” sees her lists the seasons romantically and platonically, lamenting “winter won’t give it up” while summer is “the lightest friend that [she has].” Later she offers bleak sentiments throughout “Came a Storm” like “the color of faith might be blindness” and “when the rough get going there is no time for kindness.” She squeezes in some absurd/deadpan Scandinavian humor on “Cricket” where her hair dresser teaches her about haircare in the second verse and Hyvonen comments that on the floor “split ends look a bit like Y chromosomes.” It all might be an unconventional choice for a second album, but Hyvonen has definitely succeeded in circumnavigating the sophomore slump. I have faith that wherever she moves next will be equally compelling.
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