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BSÍ: 'Sometimes depressed ... but always antifascist' - Album Review

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-keyworth/49/b3a/b83 My debut poetry pamphlet is available at wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Published May 9th 2021
Colourful musical patchwork
Best friends and musical duo Silla Thorarensen (drums & vocals) and Julius Pollux Rothlaender (bass guitar & toe-synths) have served up a debut album of two halves. It opens with the strongest track - an insistent electronic lullaby called My Lovely. Silla has such a crystal clear and heart-melting voice - reminiscent of Nina Persson of The Cardigans - that it's hard to imagine anyone refusing her invitation.

BSÍ, Sometimes depressed ... but always antifascist, Iceland, ambient music, punk, Silla Thorarensen Julius Pollux Rothlaender, music, debut album
BSÍ - Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist


From then on it continues the ambient theme before taking a sharp turn and accelerating into a sound world of catchy, high energy punk rhythms. Dónakallalagi , in particular, sounds like the studio has been gatecrashed by The Slits or maybe Yoko Ono at her most maniacally compelling. There's also more than a nod to the quirky enchantment of fellow Icelander - Bjork.

In the closing track, BSÍ show that it's not only Taylor Swift who can use a phone message to great effect ("This message is too stupid for this mailbox and will automatically be deleted.")

Whether you like the album or not, it can't be said that all the songs sound the same.

TAL 11 has snowy echoes of Goldfrapp's debut Felt Mountain.

If Lana Del Ray had been born nearer the North Pole she could have ended up recording something like Old Moon ("we gave each other nothing to hang on to")

Uncouple sounds like it was influenced by bass-heavy but poppy bands, such as New Young Pony Club. The album was recorded together with Alison MacNeil in Reykjavík, Thomas Götz in Berlin, mixed by Francine Perry in London and mastered by Sarah Register in New York City. The influence of these different regions is particularly evident on this track.

BSÍ, Sometimes depressed ... but always antifascist, Iceland, ambient music, punk, Silla Thorarensen Julius Pollux Rothlaender, music, debut album
Silla Thorarensen and Julius Pollux Rothlaender. Photo Credit: Berglind Erna Tryggvadóttir.


The mood of the album morphs from the early lazily seductive tones - not unlike Hope Sandoval - to the later songs where Silla sounds like she is locked in a room she is desperate to escape from.

The worst thing about the album is the slightly portentous title. Don't let it put you off because the content is great fun whilst also sounding completely true to its own musical vision. They have synthesised a fine mixture of influences and created something unique of their own.

Let's hope it is the first of many albums and sonic adventures from Silla and Julius.

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Why? Cool and catchy Icelandic musical export
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