DIY supremo Molly Nilsson has, with her sixth record Zenith, dived headlong into huge synth-pop songcraft. Over thirteen songs, she takes on the world of relationships and sensations with a steely gaze and a decent reverb unit. A joint release by the Night School / Dark Skies Association labels, with very stark sleeve art.
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- LSSN035 / DSA019
- LSSN035 / DSA019 / Transparent blue vinyl, repress LP on Night School / Dark Skies Association
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- Zenith by Molly Nilsson
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Even if you’ve never listened to Molly Nilsson before, which it will become abundantly clear that I have not, ‘Zenith’ is shock pop. Emerging on a new wave of John Maus’ brooding electro-pop while clamouring awkwardly through ecstatic dreams of a goth beach with coldwave sand, this record is an example of an extremely proficient songwriter going all out against the grain of clarity -- because fuck clarity. Clarity isn’t music.
Distancing herself from the heady aesthetic broth she’s cooked up -- a joyous dance/surf pop hybrid meeting industrial beats and a post-punk gloom production -- Nilsson sounds like the ghost version of an classic pop performer, like a haunted Bryan Adams or a mutated amalgam of ABBA’s four members. This record has dark, evil twins to classic karaoke -- “H.O.P.E” is a marriage of Enya new-age ambience with a wrongly eulogised version of the riff from “Time After Time”, under a blood red moon -- and synth-washed bangers like “Mountain Time”, which set clumsy rhythms in place and let hooks evolve around them. All the while, it’s Nilsson's voice that keeps this record somewhat consistent -- pushed into the backdrop, she always sounds like she’s five seconds away from walking out on us forever.
I suppose we shouldn’t just heap praise on artists who are fucking around and then twisting the results into records, but ‘Zenith’ is infectious: despite its brooding stylistic choices, Nilsson creates a record teeming with joy -- the hauntology is incidental to chill, beachside instrumentals like “Palimpsest Galore” and ridiculous songs like “Happyness”, that take Coldplay’s take on EDM and make the beats sound even less suitable. Programmed drum fills? Sure. This record is a badly made cocktail and I don't care.
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