If you throw enough music at my brain, some of it will stick, some will leave a smear, and some will fall away, never to grace my turntable a second time.
Some of the exceptional music not only sticks but spins into earworms or, best of all outcomes, form a groove of their own in the wrinkly stuff inside my head.
Pink Floyd did that to me in 1973 when they released Dark Side of the Moon with the standout track Us and Them. More recently, in 2001, 16 Horsepower’s album Hoarse established a home in my head. In 2009 The Avett Brothers did it to me with their album I and Love and You.
Fast-forward to May 14, 2021, and the Swedish duo Fredrik Forell and Arvid Hällagård, collaborating as “Pool”, have released ‘You & Us’ via Something Beautiful, their debut album. Having press privilege, I was able to preview this album and post my impression of it back on May 11 of this year. It quickly ploughed a groove through my auditory cortex into my cerebrum, where it established a home.
The remainder of this post contains some text from the review that I did on April 11.
Arvid Hällagård handles the lead vocals with a voice that sends chills up and down my spine. ‘You & Us‘ see Fredrik Forell and Arvid Hällagård telling it all in a strikingly raw and unadulterated rumination of loss and sorrow. Going through a divorce as the album was taking shape, Arvid’s heartache beautifully translates into something we can all witness and understand. The record follows the painful journey of putting a relationship to rest, recognising its shortcomings and beginning to move on from start to finish. His vocal style has an almost haunted quality which serves him well on tracks such as the opener “Grave“. About the album’s title track, You & Us, Arvid says, “These are some thoughts about how she and I felt during the relationship, how you have to handle yourself, and at the same time an ‘Us’. Mostly it’s about how hard a relationship can be, having a first kid. You expect it to be in a certain way, and the disappointment when those expectations turn out to be unreal.”
Multi-instrumentalist Fredrik Forell adds the music that verges on Americana folk but opens up new sounds that left me wondering what the hell that was.
I love it! If iTunes had grooves, I would have worn out this album by now. The lyrics and music combine to create a portrait of pain. “You and Us” walks us through the journey of love, love lost, love that never was and love that needs room to grow.
A killer track on “You and Us” that caught my ear was “By The Old Noon“. It was an instant earworm for me. Take what sounds like a banjo and then add some samples, mix them all with the remorseful lyrics, and you get a song that keeps hitting the repeat button and keeps me wondering, “What the Hell was that?”.
I could go on and on waxing poetically about this EP and the sheer brilliance of this album, but I will leave it for You & Us, I and Love and You and Us and Them to enjoy for yourselves.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
D I S C O V E R