Susanne Sundfør - "Ten Love Songs"

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Seen quite a bit of discussion about this in various threads but I think it deserves one of its own because it is quickly becoming one of my favourites of the year.

Every time I try to describe this album to people I keep ending up on variations of "goth Abba." The songwriting is really melodic and hook-driven but the production is a mix of industrial disco and lush orchestral arrangements. I'm reminded of Kleerup and Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" and the first Goldfrapp album as much as Kraftwerk and Front 242 in the arrangements. I love Sundfør's voice too - its really versatile, going from intimidating and stern on songs like "Delirious" and then being soft and vulnerable on "Slowly", and the way she works with (if not against) the lyrics reminds me of Curve's Toni Halliday or Cardigans' Nina Persson before she started to sound like a country artist. It's basically an expensive-sounding grungey Italo disco album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdSB_PcBW3k

boxedjoy, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:13 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah, this album is fantastic. Only listened to it a couple of times but it's already one of my favourite albums of the year.

Kitchen Person, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:22 (two years ago) Permalink

Memorial is the only song I wasn't totally sold on. Not sure if she quite pulls off what she was going for.

Kitchen Person, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:25 (two years ago) Permalink

this is so good

katherine, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:30 (two years ago) Permalink

I no longer care if Robyn puts out another album, or if Bertine Zetlitz's new one turns out to be crap, because this exists.

"Memorial" is like "The Winner Takes It All" raised to unbearably painful levels. Huge punch in the gut. Song of the year, except when it's "Accelerate".

oh, boy, .GIF! That's where I'm a Viking! (edwardo), Sunday, 29 March 2015 00:44 (two years ago) Permalink

Oh, and "Slowly". Oh my god, "Slowly".

oh, boy, .GIF! That's where I'm a Viking! (edwardo), Sunday, 29 March 2015 00:46 (two years ago) Permalink

Fade Away could be song of the year. Was not sure if Memorial needed to be that long at first but now I am... the way she sings the chorus at the end gives me shivers.

abcfsk, Tuesday, 31 March 2015 21:11 (two years ago) Permalink

Have had Fade Away in my head for weeks. This pushes so many of my buttons - John Carpenter vibe of Delirious, Valerie Dore Italo balladry on Slowly, love the production, so many hooks - current favourite album for sure.

ewar woowar (or something), Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:03 (two years ago) Permalink

this album is absolutely amazing
the microwave ping halfway through fade away is a personal highlight

nxd, Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:59 (two years ago) Permalink

"insects" doesn't get enough love though it is the clear standout and currently my song of the year

seeing her in may, should be amazing

katherine, Thursday, 2 April 2015 17:46 (two years ago) Permalink

I was sceptical about all this at first, but it really is a fantastic album, so lush and detailed. "Kamikaze" -> "Memorial" -> "Delirious" -> "Slowly" is a perfect sequence.

courtney barnett formula (seandalai), Wednesday, 8 April 2015 23:11 (two years ago) Permalink

Is there much writing about this album? I recall a short but rapturous review in the Grauniad but I'd be interested in reading more reviews if they're around

bae sremmurd (monotony), Wednesday, 8 April 2015 23:36 (two years ago) Permalink

There's a review list on wiki and some more out there.. not sure about the tumblr et al suspects.. I think some ilxors should do their part.

abcfsk, Wednesday, 8 April 2015 23:54 (two years ago) Permalink

The "ABBA w/ heavy eyeliner" quicktake writes itself. The Guardian, Mojo (print edn), Uncut, The Quietus, The 405, Music OMH have had their say.

Sanpaku, Thursday, 9 April 2015 02:14 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah I checked metacritic and there were only 6 reviews (89% though so all very +ve)

bae sremmurd (monotony), Thursday, 9 April 2015 04:16 (two years ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iItgZgbw1gI

abcfsk, Thursday, 9 April 2015 12:38 (two years ago) Permalink

There's a review list on wiki and some more out there.. not sure about the tumblr et al suspects.. I think some ilxors should do their part.

― abcfsk, Wednesday, 8 April 2015 23:54 (Yesterday) Permalink

believe me, I would love to be able to

katherine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 14:34 (two years ago) Permalink

also not sure what you mean about "the tumblr et al suspects" but w/e

katherine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 14:43 (two years ago) Permalink

I just mean there are some long form writers on tumblr and I don't know if there's any SS stuff of note up.

abcfsk, Thursday, 9 April 2015 15:09 (two years ago) Permalink

the jukebox wrote on "delirious" if that counts: http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=15080

katherine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 15:59 (two years ago) Permalink

Album of the year for me, album of the past couple years probably. This kind of ambition is rare and actually pulling it off is even more rare.

Leonard Pine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 16:46 (two years ago) Permalink

I would love to see some longform writing on this too, I thought there was a Pitchfork review but I can't find it so I must have dreamed it.

boxedjoy, Friday, 10 April 2015 14:06 (two years ago) Permalink

Pitchfork, and lots of other review sites, have barely made mention of her.

MarkoP, Friday, 10 April 2015 14:34 (two years ago) Permalink

Who do we ultimately have to blame for so many Scandinavian pop singers sounding so *diffident* these days? A lot of these would be great songs but that mopey wet delivery just kills them.

Matt DC, Friday, 10 April 2015 14:46 (two years ago) Permalink

this album must be getting written about somewhere--it's currently rateyourmusic's #9 album of 2015

Is It Any Wonder I'm Not the (President Keyes), Friday, 10 April 2015 14:50 (two years ago) Permalink

A lot of these would be great songs but that mopey wet delivery just kills them.

I could not disagree more strongly.

Johnny Fever, Friday, 10 April 2015 15:27 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah that's the most wrong thing ever written on ilxor.

abcfsk, Friday, 10 April 2015 15:59 (two years ago) Permalink

Greatest vocalist among scando pop stars atm by far.

abcfsk, Friday, 10 April 2015 15:59 (two years ago) Permalink

you mean Lykke Li? i agree

great record

nostormo, Friday, 10 April 2015 20:47 (two years ago) Permalink

Honestly, this is one of my favourite albums ever.

ewar woowar (or something), Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:15 (two years ago) Permalink

The quiet songs are weaker here imo

nostormo, Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:52 (two years ago) Permalink

I listened to this again and I think diffident was the wrong word, but she shares with Lykke Li this very widescreen croon that makes these songs feel so much less intimate and human than they should, it sweeps but it leaves me completely cold. It's the same thing that puts me off Lana Del Rey.

Matt DC, Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:52 (two years ago) Permalink

But that's equally wrong, she has a very specific delivery, a raw, human virtuosity and balls-out-ness more similar to early kate bush than someone like lykke li.

abcfsk, Sunday, 12 April 2015 13:05 (two years ago) Permalink

Florence sprung to mind most on my couple of listens so far

lex pretend, Sunday, 12 April 2015 13:09 (two years ago) Permalink

Her higher register is much more enjoyable, but really a "raw, human virtuosity and balls-out-ness" is the exact opposite of what I hear. I hear broad brush strokes, whereas with Kate I hang on every word.

Florence is particularly harsh though.

Matt DC, Sunday, 12 April 2015 13:17 (two years ago) Permalink

I kind of agree with Matt (I wouldn't say mopey, but a little detached?) but it honestly doesn't bother me at all. I love Lana, too. I think both Lana and Susanne do heroic scale music and while they both keep up vocally it's maybe difficult to get intense and intimate as well, idk. We can't all be Kate Bush.

Leonard Pine, Sunday, 12 April 2015 14:01 (two years ago) Permalink

I like Lana and can kind of hear similarities on some of the slower songs but I think the range, control and ability to sell a line put her much closer to Agnetha Faltskog territory, which is as about as high as praise gets imo. I hear something new in her delivery almost every time I listen to the album.

It's a phenomenal record and probably one of my two or three favourites this decade.

Ethnically Ambiguous / 28 - 45 (ShariVari), Sunday, 12 April 2015 16:31 (two years ago) Permalink

As a fan of Lykke Li, this is miles better both in terms of ~songcraft~ and delivery. On something like "Slowly" Lykke Li would sound strained and contrived and reaching for emotion, whereas Sundfør sounds much rawer, more honest and open. I think this album really works because there's a sense of committed earnestness to the performance of the songs, and while I can see how that element of theatricality could be off-putting, the mix of grandiosity and vulnerability is what holds this album together and makes it so great.

boxedjoy, Monday, 13 April 2015 00:02 (two years ago) Permalink

currently so obsessed with "kamikaze"

A-HA-A

uberweiss, Monday, 13 April 2015 02:27 (two years ago) Permalink

good song but i hate it when she prounounce the word as "kamika-tsee"

nostormo, Monday, 13 April 2015 05:52 (two years ago) Permalink

I wrote the five-star Guardian review. Had never heard her before, and wasn't expecting much. But it just blew me away. It seemed so fantastically ambitious in its formalism: there's a real streak of classisism in it, but equally it doesn't just dwell on cliches. Brilliant record.

Unsettled defender (ithappens), Monday, 13 April 2015 16:24 (two years ago) Permalink

Still caning this...quite surprised at its longevity, the only song I'm getting fed up of is "Accelerate".

courtney barnett formula (seandalai), Friday, 24 April 2015 00:02 (two years ago) Permalink

the classical/pop tug of war reminds me of seili by jenni vartiainen

nxd, Friday, 24 April 2015 09:50 (two years ago) Permalink

this left me cold a month or so ago - it's

lex pretend, Friday, 24 April 2015 11:07 (two years ago) Permalink

this left me cold a month or so ago - it's quite an edifice - but really clicked today.

lex pretend, Friday, 24 April 2015 11:07 (two years ago) Permalink

It's heartstoppingly good
Can't wait to see her next month

got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Friday, 24 April 2015 11:55 (two years ago) Permalink

Had a chance to listen to it start to finish on a road trip today. Felt almost symphonic, the way the moods and rhythms ebbed and flowed.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Friday, 24 April 2015 19:31 (two years ago) Permalink

Kind of drops off for me after "Memorial," at least right now

fuck me, archipelago (Simon H.), Friday, 24 April 2015 20:59 (two years ago) Permalink

this record rules

insufficiently familiar with xgau's work to comment intelligently (BradNelson), Friday, 24 April 2015 21:03 (two years ago) Permalink

it is dissolving my hangover rn

insufficiently familiar with xgau's work to comment intelligently (BradNelson), Friday, 24 April 2015 21:07 (two years ago) Permalink

Really beautiful album. Perhaps not every melody and song is stellar but it's a very high bar she's setting. So confident in the material. Can't wait to hear the new stuff in Glasgow.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Friday, 1 September 2017 15:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

And where's Lex?

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Friday, 1 September 2017 15:58 (three weeks ago) Permalink

So intrigued by the lyrical content too. What's been going on for her since the last album...

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Friday, 1 September 2017 16:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Jealous of you guys who have the album. In the meantime I'll have to make do with this recording on a mountaintop

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OTGgmXMfs0

abcfsk, Saturday, 2 September 2017 20:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

The live vocals on the last third..

abcfsk, Saturday, 2 September 2017 20:48 (three weeks ago) Permalink

wow, that live performance of Undercover blew me away. This song captures the lovesick feeling so perfectly

Week of Wonders (Ross), Saturday, 2 September 2017 20:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

more on youtube: about the location and trek (includes a bit of The Brothel):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mW-MDmZAvc

and The Sound Of War:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqnpuhHs7kQ

StanM, Sunday, 3 September 2017 07:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Jealous of you guys who have the album. In the meantime I'll have to make do with this recording on a mountaintop

📹

That's a beautiful performance. Lyrics of love lost. Which seems to be the theme of the album imo.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Wednesday, 6 September 2017 16:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Thanks for those YT links StanM. Really great stuff.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Wednesday, 6 September 2017 16:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm obsessed with Music For People In Trouble right now. It's pretty much the perfect follow-up for me. It's going to be a great autumn soundtrack.

kitchen person, Wednesday, 6 September 2017 16:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

On non stop repeat for me

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Thursday, 7 September 2017 05:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

this is.....quite good. REALLY reminding me of Weyes Blood (and not just coz she just released a single) so if you didn't hear her album from last year then hear it, it's amazing. 'the golden age' is p much a Weyes Blood song

imago, Friday, 8 September 2017 10:12 (two weeks ago) Permalink

who's the actor sampled btw? tt reckons ben whishaw

imago, Friday, 8 September 2017 10:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

this isn't like Ten Love Songs where it's immediately lovable and I don't see this ending up an all-time favourite, but it is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. The last two minutes of Undercover is an incredible performance.

boxedjoy, Friday, 8 September 2017 10:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

This is very different but very good. The sound of it is amazing.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 8 September 2017 21:01 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Stark.

Love it.

Le Bateau Ivre, Friday, 8 September 2017 21:02 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I've definitely come around on this now that I've heard the previously released tracks in context. The pedal steel is used to haunting effect.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Friday, 8 September 2017 21:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

these are powerful songs, though I miss the gothic majesty of Ten Love Songs

rock and roll tucci coo (voodoo chili), Friday, 8 September 2017 21:11 (two weeks ago) Permalink

No one can convince me that if Adele cut "Undercover" it wouldn't be massive.

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Friday, 8 September 2017 21:13 (two weeks ago) Permalink

feel like it would be completely redundant TBH

in twelve parts (lamonti), Saturday, 9 September 2017 10:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I listened to this last night and it's grown on me a little bit. This is definitely one of those records that only locks in when you're in the mood for it.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Saturday, 9 September 2017 10:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

what Sundfor does as a vocalist, especially on songs like "Undercover", is take the idea of a particular type of heartbreak - the mix of loneliness and patheticness that feels so private and tortured and insular - and blow it up to seem like the end of the world, but in a way that seems sincere rather than performed. I wouldn't say she avoids melodrama - I think that's key to the idea of her as a performer - but rather her tendencies towards melodrama are convincingly authentic.

So in the hands of eg Adele you can imagine it being sung well (probably better, technically) and it being a great performance, but not anywhere near as believable a statement. I don't necessarily believe authenticity alone can make for better music, but working in this particular style, it requires a degree of earnestness that can only come from full committment to it, and you can hear that in both this album's slide guitar and sample usage, or Ten Love Songs' willingness to embrace the kitsch of italo-disco and the grandiose string arrangements.

boxedjoy, Monday, 11 September 2017 00:36 (one week ago) Permalink

my first experience of really loving pop music was Shakespeare's Sister "Stay" which is basically a Twilight fan fiction turned into a synth power ballad but performed with disarming conviction, and I think we're in similar territory here - whether its intentional or not I think Sundfor as a artist really gets the idea of low culture as a valid means of expression to create high art (low/high used in terms of critical canon hierarchies)

boxedjoy, Monday, 11 September 2017 00:43 (one week ago) Permalink

Susanne has announced her biggest ever London show at Shepherds Bush Empire on March 1st 2018. Pre-sale tickets: https://t.co/G90Ls3H2AZ pic.twitter.com/8XoIT20KRe

— Susanne Sundfør (@susannesundfor) September 11, 2017

groovypanda, Monday, 11 September 2017 09:48 (one week ago) Permalink

This is really, really powerful stuff. Makes sense that after such a grand, boundless album she'd do something smaller and more confined.

Evan R, Monday, 11 September 2017 19:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Cool portrait.
I have to say Sunder is one of these individuals, a la Gaga, who no matter how many pictures I see of them, I can never really get what they look like (and who I would never recognise on the street)

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Monday, 11 September 2017 20:21 (one week ago) Permalink

err Sundfør obviously

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Monday, 11 September 2017 20:21 (one week ago) Permalink

The 'music for people in trouble' track just had me going a bit mad trying to work out what I thought it was going to be a cover of (thankfully not as I think it's one of the worst songs ever, Ultra Nate 'free')
Or is it?

kinder, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 21:33 (one week ago) Permalink

When the acoustic guitar first appeared in the title track, I thought it was going to turn into Erica America by Jens Lekman. It sounds exactly like the intro.

kitchen person, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 21:52 (one week ago) Permalink

yeah, that too!

kinder, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 23:02 (one week ago) Permalink

I like this:

With the titles of my two last albums - 10 Love Songs and Music For People in Trouble - I wanted them to be a bit stupid. I'm drawn to that kind of art where you're told: "This is what it is.” And then you have to figure out yourself the depth of it, instead of having a very extravagant and deep title and trying to work out what it's about.

ArchCarrier, Wednesday, 13 September 2017 13:11 (one week ago) Permalink

ok hang on THE CORRS?

kinder, Wednesday, 13 September 2017 14:06 (one week ago) Permalink

hahahaha

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 14:59 (one week ago) Permalink

Fair play to her. They wrote some lovely melodies. It's just that Jim's a spacecake.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 15:00 (one week ago) Permalink

man this record is gorgeous. great quietus list too

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 16:31 (one week ago) Permalink

i like that she included for the roses bc that's what "bedtime story" puts me in the mind of

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 16:52 (one week ago) Permalink

I've gone from not thinking a lot to this record to thinking it's amazing over a few listens. A grower, and not to be written off because it's nothing like the previous record.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 16:56 (one week ago) Permalink

could be that i'm just very tired at work today but "mountaineers" made me cry at my desk

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 17:18 (one week ago) Permalink

I said this before but the climax of that song is completely unreal

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 17:22 (one week ago) Permalink

Ten Love Songs completely passed me by, still not heard it, as I've got my hands full with this new album, which is fantastic. Just in time, too.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 13 September 2017 22:48 (one week ago) Permalink

I love that she loves Seventh Tree. I totally agree with her take on it.

LeRooLeRoo, Thursday, 14 September 2017 03:20 (one week ago) Permalink

i like that she included /for the roses/ bc that's what "bedtime story" puts me in the mind of

Ditto pink moon. Her guitar playing on the title track reminds me of -horn-

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Thursday, 14 September 2017 15:12 (one week ago) Permalink

My previously planned project at work, the reason I couldn't go to her show in Brussels tomorrow, has been postponed, but now her show is sold out, of course. Maybe next time. :-(

StanM, Thursday, 14 September 2017 19:59 (one week ago) Permalink

This is fast becoming a top 10 of the year contender for me... she did something really special here

Evan R, Friday, 15 September 2017 15:29 (one week ago) Permalink

more chilly mountaintop tracks on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_tdmXL2gIM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UY4Oi9wMoo

and she's touring solo? (didn't know it was without her band)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z81RbkGLCoc

StanM, Saturday, 16 September 2017 07:23 (one week ago) Permalink

i'm as bitey as a shark

kinder, Saturday, 16 September 2017 18:04 (one week ago) Permalink

Picked up the vinyl from Piccadilly Records on Saturday. Beautiful.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Tuesday, 19 September 2017 16:10 (five days ago) Permalink

rude question, but how much did you pay for it? Online prices are pretty ridiculous from what I've seen

Evan R, Tuesday, 19 September 2017 16:25 (five days ago) Permalink

£19

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 05:41 (four days ago) Permalink


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