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.

boxedjoy, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:13 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

this is so good

katherine, Saturday, 28 March 2015 20:30 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

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

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

nxd, Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:59 (five years ago) link

"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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

abcfsk, Thursday, 9 April 2015 12:38 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

katherine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 14:43 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

the jukebox wrote on "delirious" if that counts:

katherine, Thursday, 9 April 2015 15:59 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

MarkoP, Friday, 10 April 2015 14:34 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

abcfsk, Friday, 10 April 2015 15:59 (five years ago) link

Greatest vocalist among scando pop stars atm by far.

abcfsk, Friday, 10 April 2015 15:59 (five years ago) link

you mean Lykke Li? i agree

great record

nostormo, Friday, 10 April 2015 20:47 (five years ago) link

Honestly, this is one of my favourite albums ever.

ewar woowar (or something), Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:15 (five years ago) link

The quiet songs are weaker here imo

nostormo, Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:52 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

lex pretend, Sunday, 12 April 2015 13:09 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

currently so obsessed with "kamikaze"


uberweiss, Monday, 13 April 2015 02:27 (five years ago) link

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

nostormo, Monday, 13 April 2015 05:52 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

nxd, Friday, 24 April 2015 09:50 (five years ago) link

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

lex pretend, Friday, 24 April 2015 11:07 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

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

this record rules

it is dissolving my hangover rn

She was strictly solo in Toronto - I have to say, "Mantra" sounded way better on keyboards than acoustic guitar

I was sort of surprised at how close she came to selling out a decent-size venue considering I don't believe her albums have ever gotten a physical release here

Simon H., Wednesday, 8 November 2017 18:57 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

I liked how Anja is always playing Music for People in Trouble in Joachim Trier's Thelma. Helped clarify a deliberately underwritten character.

geoffreyess, Friday, 8 December 2017 16:40 (three years ago) link

I sprung for the vinyl copy of the record and, it's not cheap, but it's one of the most beautifully packaged records I've bought in years

Evan R, Friday, 8 December 2017 17:06 (three years ago) link

i'm as bitey as a shark

I can't unhear this btw, but it makes me so happy anyway

Evan R, Friday, 8 December 2017 17:08 (three years ago) link

More European dates for 2018 added:

I also bought the vinyl edition recently. The URL on the download card doesn't seem to be correct. Has anyone else been more successful?

Jeff W, Monday, 11 December 2017 21:01 (three years ago) link

I had no trouble with my download url

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 02:58 (three years ago) link

Thanks, got it now. The issue was an http/https mix up on my part.

Jeff W, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 13:10 (three years ago) link

Just got tickets for the Manchester show in March.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 16:26 (three years ago) link

This album has gone from "meh" to "oh my god, this is fucking awesome" over the months. It's a beautiful record that deserves as much attention as the last one, even if it is a very different (and less immediate) record.

Gholdfish Killah (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 19:14 (three years ago) link

^^ yeah songwriting is still top notch, and there probably aren't ten better singers than Susanne in pop music

voodoo chili, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 19:24 (three years ago) link

I prefer it over even Ten Love Songs. I admired that album's audacity but the songwriting is better here. It's really a feat.

Evan R, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 19:25 (three years ago) link

making it your own, great artist

kolakube (Ross), Sunday, 24 December 2017 00:36 (three years ago) link

so within a very short time, i learned about the lady who Bonnie Prince has covered at album length via another thread, and, reading this thread, mistook her for this lady. i am listening to ten love songs now and surely will be purchasing the physical version, and will check out susanna later today. has anyone made the same mistake? likes 'em both? likes one but not the other?

veronica moser, Wednesday, 27 December 2017 17:52 (three years ago) link

who is this other artist?

Evan R, Thursday, 28 December 2017 03:16 (three years ago) linkød

StanM, Thursday, 28 December 2017 04:03 (three years ago) link

two months pass...

New one is sounding gorgeous today. Shift brings to mind Emiliana Torrini’s sparse “Fisherman’s Woman’ album, which is a gem

tinnitus the night (Ross), Sunday, 18 March 2018 00:23 (two years ago) link

that is actually a perfect analogy for why the new one was disappointing because "Telepathy" is so far and away the best thing Emiliana Torrini has ever done

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Sunday, 18 March 2018 17:40 (two years ago) link

one month passes...


StanM, Saturday, 12 May 2018 05:39 (two years ago) link

just came here post that stanm. i was lucky enough to be at that concert, the whole thing was filmed, so maybe there's more to come? lovely venue, great acoustics, and she was absolutely amazing from start to finish.

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Saturday, 12 May 2018 07:02 (two years ago) link

Jesus Christ. She's ridiculous.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Saturday, 12 May 2018 09:35 (two years ago) link


kinder, Saturday, 12 May 2018 13:07 (two years ago) link

that performance of 'Undercover' is breathtaking

flopson, Wednesday, 16 May 2018 06:03 (two years ago) link

four months pass...

New (?) radio doc on SS and Oslo:

Not sure if it's available outside UK.

Jeff W, Sunday, 30 September 2018 15:32 (two years ago) link

Amazingly, it's available in the US

Uhura Mazda (lukas), Sunday, 30 September 2018 21:58 (two years ago) link

it's even available in Europe! Is this the soft brexit then?

StanM, Sunday, 30 September 2018 22:02 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

StanM, Sunday, 13 January 2019 08:54 (two years ago) link

(= new song, performed on a Norwegian awards show at the end of October)

StanM, Sunday, 13 January 2019 08:54 (two years ago) link

waiting for her own arrangement on that to be honest, feels a little generic movie sound track to me. :-/

Same show:

StanM, Sunday, 13 January 2019 08:57 (two years ago) link

that performance of Undercover is particularly brilliant isn't it, the things she does with her voice 2.50 onwards - not just a technical skill of voice mastery but the way she really sells the sense of loneliness and longing at the song's core

boxedjoy, Sunday, 13 January 2019 10:58 (two years ago) link

Wow, it's stunning!

Johnny Fever, Sunday, 13 January 2019 15:10 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

she's on Mercury Rev's new album (a tribute to Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 The Delta Sweete) :

StanM, Friday, 8 February 2019 18:03 (one year ago) link

eight months pass...

“Reincarnation” live:

Music For People In Trouble - Live from The Barbican out next month.

breastcrawl, Friday, 18 October 2019 23:18 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Out now! 10-minute "Undercover" comes with a bass solo:

Kind of wish she had done one of these for Ten Love Songs instead, the arrangements on MFPIT live don't depart that much from the album versions.

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 29 November 2019 02:10 (one year ago) link

Lovely song. Part of the chorus sounded a lot like another tune I couldn't put my finger on at first. I finally realized that it employs a similar melody to Killing Me Softly's "And so I came to see him, to listen for a while…"

Chantilly Bass, Friday, 29 November 2019 23:44 (one year ago) link

Yeah this feels a bit redundant - good vocal performance but I can't see me ever reaching for it over the actual album

boxedjoy, Saturday, 30 November 2019 09:05 (one year ago) link

I'm glad to have these distended versions, and to have a document of her astonishing live vocals.

Simon H., Tuesday, 3 December 2019 14:04 (one year ago) link

i think the vocals in StanM's Youtube link upthread are better than anything on this album

boxedjoy, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 17:39 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

New song!

monotony, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 08:37 (one year ago) link

i like this more than a lot of the last album!

ufo, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 10:24 (one year ago) link

I like it
Thought it was a cover of 'Na na na' by The Knife for a second or two

kinder, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 22:03 (one year ago) link

5-track EP Self Portrait, the soundtrack to the Norwegian documentary Selvportrett, is up on Spotify. It includes “When The Lord”.

breastcrawl, Thursday, 9 January 2020 23:16 (one year ago) link

abcfsk, Friday, 10 January 2020 13:26 (one year ago) link

eleven months pass...

getting a little stoned and doing gift shopping in manhattan & brooklyn while listening to ten love songs is one of my all time favorite holiday traditions. A+ perfect record.

blue6ave, Tuesday, 22 December 2020 22:02 (one month ago) link

The greatest album of all time by a Norwegian artist

abcfsk, Tuesday, 22 December 2020 22:43 (one month ago) link

My favourite albums by here are still the two she made with Lars Horntvedt from Jaga Jazzist producing in the early 10s, "The Brother" and "The Silicone Veil". Some absolutely beautiful arrangements on those two.

The GeirBot (Geir Hongro), Wednesday, 23 December 2020 01:11 (four weeks ago) link

"The Brothel" anyway.

The GeirBot (Geir Hongro), Wednesday, 23 December 2020 01:12 (four weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

"mountaineers" from music for people in trouble is used to great effect in the norwegian film thelma, currently available on hulu (and unconditionally loved by me)

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, 9 January 2021 04:40 (one week ago) link

the second half of "mountaineers" is like dying, in a good way

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, 9 January 2021 04:42 (one week ago) link

that's a better description than I could ever have come up with BN, it's a monumental piece of music

lefal junglist platton (wtev), Friday, 15 January 2021 21:55 (one week ago) link

I was in Iceland in 2018 and I spent a lot of time in coaches, driving the flatlands of the coast roads between the sea and the mountains, listening over and over to People in Trouble, particularly Mountaineers. Jesus, what a song.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 15 January 2021 22:53 (one week ago) link

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