Ólöf Arnalds - Sudden Elevation

It’s apt that this was written and recorded in an isolated wood cabin, as themes of loneliness feature throughout.

Ólöf Arnalds sings her entire third full-length in English, a first for her, yet those familiar with her will know that the language barriers take nothing away from her music. Be it ‘Viõ Og Viõ’s chilly minimalism or the fairy tale choruses of ‘Innundir Skinni’, Ólöf’s music is undeniably enchanting. So enchanting that even Björk decided to record a track with her.

The former múm member wrote and record ‘Sudden Elevation’ whilst isolated in the cold, woody crevices of a cabin, which is apt as themes of loneliness feature commonly throughout. Most of the songs tell of emotional struggle with the desire for a less turbulent future. ‘Bright And Still’ recalls a loving relationship where one partner is ‘not always there,’ and ‘Treat Her Kindly’ stresses about one big “big heartache.” Best yet is the melancholic ‘Return Again’. Antique guitars and timid piano keys provide a sombre perch for Olof’s frosty vocals as she weeps: “No one knows each other, feelings of another.”

‘Sudden Elevation’’s more upbeat and joyful moments are delightful too. ‘Treat Her Kindly’ is the record’s briskest track, weightless strings wandering along a breezy backdrop, whilst ‘The Joke’ further highlights Ólöf’s wispy touch with a guitar. Further on, harmonic gusts make ‘Numbers and Names’ the most optimistic track on the record whilst there’s something almost otherworldly in other tracks – ‘A Little Grim’ suitable for crowds of centuries long gone.

It’s Ólöf’s wonderful vocals that are ‘Sudden Elevation’s highlight though. A shrill lilt by way of Joanna Newsom’s infantile vocals, her voice resonates best during ‘Call It What You Want’ and ‘German Fields’, both as striking as each other the moment it strikes the eardrums.

In close proximity of each other, ‘Call It What You Want’, ‘Perfect’ and ‘Onwards And Upwards’ are a little too timid, each simply brushing against each other with no discernible difference. These are only minor concerns when everything else is as captivating as they are. Singing in English will no doubt attract new audiences. She can only go further from there.

Tags: Olof Arnalds, Reviews, Album Reviews

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