Cake On Cake
Hymns I Remember
Not a whole lot has changed in the musical world of Helena Sundlin’s project Cake on Cake since the 2006 release of her last album, I Guess I Was Daydreaming. While there might not be much in the way of artistic development, she still has the minimalist, melancholy Scandinavian pop on lock down and that’s definitely a good state of existence. Listening to Hymns I Remember lives up to its title; it evokes the same pulling of the heartstrings that old favorites like Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister and the pre-Kortedala Jens Lekman catalog used to provide.
Sundlin’s lyrics are steeped heavily in the intertwining moments of life between nostalgia and love. She has a very twee-friendly mentality, but rarely goes down the syrupy-sweet route. Instead, she comes up with an oddball interpretation to bring a smile to the face as on “Sunday Girl” where she sings “the guy who dumped you is not even pretty / and he’s not that smart / He’s just a blond thing that dressed like Conway Twitty / and he broke your heart.” On “The Rose” she gets even closer to maudlin with “I will give you this rose that’s been growing in my heart / Give it water to drink that’s been pouring from your eyes.” Sundlin’s vocal phrasing and timbre are an interesting combination of Joanna Newsom’s airiness and Nico’s stoicism. It creates a great emotional resonance that’s both naive and sagely.
Most of the instrumentation this time around is, again, handled by Sundlin. It’s a gloriously lo-fi one-woman show, with pre-programmed drum beats and many different keyboard tones. It’s deceptively simple, though, as so many of these tracks have many complementary layers. As spacious as “Visiting The Venice Biennale” sounds, its echoing percussion, twinkling keys and hooking bass lines are as densely plotted for maximum effect as the best tracks in the Motown canon. A lot of Swedish pop has been losing its luster as it becomes more popular, thankfully Cake on Cake is still creating highly orchestrated music borne of heart rather than over-production.