Korallreven: 'An Album by Korallreven'


An Album by Korallreven (Hybris/Acéphale)

An Album by Korallreven kicks off with the glorious "As Young as Yesterday," an epic voyage of synth-pads and electro-sprinkles and beats that skitter across the stereo spectrum like 3D snowflakes. It's a startlingly great introduction from this Swedish duo—maybe too great. Press releases point toward divine inspiration—Marcus Joons formed the project after encountering the splendor of Catholic choral music while on a Samoan holiday. Along with bandmate Daniel Tjäder (also a member of indie-pop act the Radio Dept.), Joons aims toward heaven and gets there with "Yesterday," one of the most spellbinding electronic tracks dreamed up in years. But, perhaps knowing there's absolutely no way they can top it, they don't.

After that moment of brilliance, An Album gradually loses its luster, starting with the hollowed-out "Sa Sa Samoa," which lapses into sparkly ambience that's less intricate, even as it holds your attention. Korallreven are undoubtedly masters of sugary mood music, capturing and maintaining a pulse; "Keep Your Eyes Shut" has some of the sweetest synth horns laid to tape since Steve Winwood's Back in the High Life. But for every bit of headphone twinkling, you ache for a pop gold mine. They get awfully close at times (the New Age synth explosions of "Comin' Closer"), enough to make these guys a band to watch. But for now, "As Young as Yesterday" remains the work of a better, more exciting, band.