Kemi Kemi

Inat Bakat
7th November 2022

Michael's Pick

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Format Info

LP - black vinyl

Released on a criminally low run of 200, Kemi is the glowing, bittersweet synth / indie pop debut you need to hear right now.

Drifting in from across a fog-misted lagoon, Kemi come enveloped in ghostly reverb, mid-80s 4AD dynamics and heart-tugging melancholia. KEMI is the band’s debut, straight in with no fanfare, a self-assured shoegaze indie pop hybrid aimed straight at your heart. 

Residents of Sweden’s west coast music Mecca Gothenburg, the trio consist of members of Skiftande Enheter, LÖSS and the distinctive swaying vocal of death pop queen Maja Millner (also of Swedish post-punk group Makthaverskan. Kemi translates as Chemistry, an apt descriptor for a group that seems to stimulate a Smorgasbord of chemical reactions.. there’s an injection of oxytocin when Millner’s vocal comes in on spår, her melody sweet and sad over the reverb-marinated guitar waterfalls. Love Hultén or Ismael Andersson (we’re not sure who’s providing the male vocals here) provide a nervous system-triggering spook response on existens, bringing a distinctly Nordic existential angst cloaked in dark wave sonics.

Particularly when celebrated vocalist Millner soars, the tunes and atmosphere are unstoppable. Just listen to this track din blick, a masterclass in subdued, emotive melodic swoonery. It’s not that everything isn’t perfectly studied and correct, it is. The trio are clearly students of the various 80s subcultures that inform their music, but they execute it with a startling confidence and hermetically sealed style that it’s just utterly beguiling. Andersson cut their teeth in hardcore punk groups while Hulten is a celebrated synth engineer and designer and Kemi are the perfect concoction for all three members’ individual backgrounds to mix in. There are luminous shades of goth music (this is GOTHenburg after all), particularly in the minor chord, chorus-efx guitars that dress the rhythms and vågor, for example, brings in a tear-starting indie pop sadness again on the back of Millner’s delivery.

What’s to love about groups like Kemi is that they’re resolutely confident and satisfied doing their thing, not kowtowing to the Anglification of their craft. The darker, synth-heavy tracks and the wistful guitar-driven tracks are all executed in Swedish and it doesn’t matter one bit. Theirs is a chemistry universal, the juices flow round the body the same after all.