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Death and Vanilla - Flicker

  by Adrian Janes

published: 30 / 8 / 2023

Death and Vanilla - Flicker
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Latest album from Swedish dream pop trio Death and Vanilla ranges from engaging fare to a touch too much vanilla

Death and Vanilla are a Swedish trio whose first record, an EP, was released in 2010. Since then they have produced several albums, a couple of which were derived from live soundtracks composed for film screenings. Perhaps this side of their work has to some extent carried over to ‘Flicker’, insofar as the new album is sometimes music that feels too restrained, as though not wishing to deny the limelight to something else. But here there are no cinematic images to compete with the songs, leaving them fully exposed. As a result, only some of the tracks turn out to be really engaging, with the opening brace amongst the strongest. ‘Out for Magic’ is urged along by bass, clean-toned guitar and menthol-cool vocals, to create a piece of pleasant pop. The slinky bass and keyboard of ‘Baby Snakes’ make for an intriguing dub feel, even if the drum machine employed sounds somewhat light. A feeling of holding back lurks about other tracks, a sense which especially applies to Marleen Nilsson’s singing. On first acquaintance undeniably melodic, over the course of an album it’s a little-varied sound that can come over as colourless and bland. Where, for example, ‘Fearless’, with its echoed keyboard effects and reverbed bass has a promising dubwise beginning, the introduction of the vocals at once reduces its impact, the lack of emotion or inflection characteristic, even if it might be argued as fitting for the dream pop category the band tend to be placed in. There is more satisfaction generally in focusing on the songs’ instrumental side, Death and Vanilla being quite happy to diversify from an electronica foundation with guitars and mellotron, for example. A variety of instruments are brought to the fore on different tracks: calming flute on ‘Find Another Illusion’, dexterous keyboard on ‘Perpetuum Mobile’, and a gurgling xylophone that animates the whole arrangement of ‘Transparent Things’, where even the vocals achieve a degree of warmth above the typical level. On this outing Death and Vanilla certainly show rather more than a flicker of life, though sometimes not much flavour to savour.

Track Listing:-
1 Out For Magic
2 Baby Snakes
3 Find Another Illusion
4 Perpetuum Mobile
5 Looking Glass
6 Mercury's Rising
7 Fearless
8 Transparent Things
9 Perpetuum (reprise)

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