Aabenbaringen over aaskammen (Polyvinyl)
Let’s all say it as a group: Aabenbaringen over aaskammen. Easy enough, right? The third full-length from this Norwegian synth-pop quartet might be an exotic mouthful as far as pronunciation goes, but the slick grooves found within speak a universal tongue. These guys are, yes, a synth-pop band, but you shouldn’t run off just yet. In the mold of other forward-thinking, synth-glorifying acts like Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem, Casiokids make their keys wiggle and whirl and sparkle in ways you’d never imagine, decorated with a full-band presence and an ear for arrangements that defy expectations. Also, they named their first album F--k MIDI, so that’s telling you something right there.
The opening title track is a head-scratcher, but in a totally great way. There are no synths, no dance-ready beats—just fluttering woodwinds and a wheezing accordion. And this isn’t some kind of jokey classical intro where the rest of the album feels disconnected; “Aabenbaringen” is so well-arranged, you might find yourself checking the liner notes to see what album you accidentally bought. Meanwhile, closer “Aldri ska me ha det gøy” awesomely defies classification—a Sigur Ros-esque guitar figure is disrupted by blaring synth-bass, echoey synth-strings, and chirping, pitch-shifted voices. In between those two sonic poles are lots and lots of psychedelic, ass-shaking highlights, like the unrelenting “Golden Years,” where disco guitars and crisp electronics work wonders under a comet-sized hook. Even if you don’t speak Norwegian, odds are you speak melody, and there’s absolutely no translation needed here.