- LP - black vinyl
Welcome to the clandestine, spiritually nourishing cult of Amateur Hour. A 3 piece cloaked in mystery and static from Gothenburg, their music shimmers with an ethereal melancholy that seems ripped out of the underground. It’s easy to imagine Amateur Hour Grouper covering Galaxie 500 under the shroud of darkness, warbling overtones phasing in and out, the night calling for the souls making the music, beckoning. Krökta Tankar Och Brända Vanor is the group’s highly anticipated (in select circles, into which you are now invited) third album and to celebrate its release our friends over at Appetite have repressed the long out of print first 2 albums, the eponymous debut (originally an early Förlag För Fri Musik cut) and Framtiden Tillhör Inte Oss. Amateur Hour take the happenstancial, improvisatory feel at the heart of much of the Gothenburg scene and apply it to pop music to produce deeply affecting, weeping music graced with a lo fi elegance.
These three records chart the groups’ journey, signposts in their collective work that offer portals into their hermetically sealed world. Forming in the middle of the last decade, the group set out a gameplan that implied the absolute absence of a gameplan. Interviews and information are sparse, but their interview on Dynamite Hemorrhage reveals a group of musicians happy to let their music making evolve with minimal half-drunk guidance, a group of friends locked in together and pursuing the first thought-best thought, first take-best take punk approach to slowcore beautifully sad and hugging music. The recordings are often fuzzy, dipped in tape hiss or at least a tape recorders’ natural distortion, shimmering Maurice Deebank guitars and a obfuscated vocal by Julia Bjernelind (who we just learned is the singer in Monorail faves Typical Girls, wow!) just hidden enough to be impossibly enticing.
So back in 2019, the Amateur Hour trio prepped for their magnum opus with Framtiden Tillhör Inte Oss which formulates many of the ideas they’ve blasted into outer space on Krökta Tankar Och Brända Vanor. It feels like the bandwith is crushed, like you’re looking through a crack in the wall at a band slowly crying tears into the saddest well in the world. I’m Yours opens the record, with Bjernelind dueting with either Dan Johansson or Hugo Randulv on a guitar playing chords and what sounds like an amp plugged into itself, spewing out its lifeforce in the form of controlled feedback. Some of the pieces here are perhaps some of the most formless in the group’s discography but they rub up against gems like Jenny’s Place with its hue of Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins, Bjernelind’s vocal clearly heard vocal, seeming to lament a failed relationship, entoning “do me a favour and stay the same” she sounds vulnerable, exposed without the usual cloud of distortion and haze. It actually reminds me a little of the cult Japanese group Shizuka. Which is the highest of compliments if you ask me.
But listen to Jag Laser / Happy Days, a cut up experiment in warble and frankly off key vocals: you just have to admire the who gives a shit attitude, the sheer confidence and artistry of a group who’re doing what they do as if no one else is listening. In fact, on their second album Amateur Hour seem to be throwing out their brightest and simplest pop songs paired with their most abstract pieces, and you just gotta love that. Dream Of You has a sweet arpeggio on guitar in partnership with what almost sounds like a Roy Orbison-inflected song. There are parts on this record that sound fragile and low key beautiful and then with closer Bloder they bring full on Lou Reed Metal Machine Music bloody-mindedness, all screeching feedback like they’ve kicked the shit out of their guitars and then left them to die in the studio. Harsh, man.
Framtiden Tillhör Inte Oss – Amateur Hour is no longer in stock