Olof Arnalds - Palme

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2014-09-29

Icelandic singer/songwriter/violinist Arnalds’ fourth solo album finds her ably assisted by her múm partner Gunnar Örn Tynes, who provided much of the programmed electronics that separate this from her more acoustic earlier efforts. But one thing that still anchors the album is Arnold’s unique voice: a touch of Betty Boop-on-helium, operatic, glass-shattering shrieks, and a smidgeon of Klaus Nomi’s ear-cleansing tonsil exercises for good measure. It’s certainly unique, but it will also trap you in its almost hallucinatory spell that will stop you dead in your tracks and demand your undivided attention.

Tynes’ electronic accompaniment has a childlike innocence about it that perfectly suits Arnalds’ little-girl-lost vocals, creating an eerie atmosphere of toytown experimentation with classical overtones. Dreamy tunes like ‘Hypnose’ gallop across the room like Nina Hagen crossed with the Collins Sisters while playful keyboards flutter around the background, adding a syncopated baroque rhythm track under Arnalds’ giddy vocals.

The title track has a slightly askew Caribbean vibe about it, with glitchy percussive effects hopping around Arnalds’ sinewy vocal, while the early single, ‘Patience’, was wisely selected for its attractive melody and singalong chorus. 'Han Grete' is another winner that may be even more palatable to universal tastes. Still, novices may be put off by Arnolds’ Yoko Ono-ish squeaky voice - it's definitely an acquired taste. However, if you’re enthralled by Kate Bush or Bjork’s vocal acrobatics and can tolerate Diamanda Galás or Nina Hagen for more than an hour at a time, you’ll find a lot to like in this Icelandic chanteuse’s unique take on electronic pop.

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