Dylan Mondegreen

Dylan Mondegreen

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Dylan Mondegreen would be a fine name for a singer/songwriter, but it's all a front for Norwegian artist Børge Sildnes. His third album under the moniker is a beautifully crafted, self-titled work built around his warm, homey vocals and introspective lyrics, then made extra-special by the production and arrangement work done by him and co-producer Ian Catt (best-known for his work with Saint Etienne). They surround the songs with subtle layers of strings, vocals, glockenspiel, and keys, giving his tender songs about fatherhood, growing older, friendship, and the melancholy aspects of love a rich backdrop that's reassuring and honest. The duo also make sure to throw in surprising hooks to keep things fresh -- the steel drums and keyboards swoops on "It Takes Two," or the doubled strings and vocal chorus on "The Heart Is a Muscle." Sildnes also drafts in vocalist Maria Due to sing with him on "Come Tomorrow," and the result isn't too dissimilar to a relaxed version of Two Wheels Good-era Prefab Sprout. In fact, the entire album has the kind of sophisticated and witty feel of bands from that era, only with the far more organic production of his contemporaries like Jens Lekman or Sondre Lerche. Those are two apt comparisons, as all three share a similar approach to songcraft and a knack for getting at the realities of life with their lyrics. After a couple spins of Dylan Mondegreen, you might start comparing those two guys to Sildnes. It's that good a record, flawlessly written and performed, and produced with uncommon skill and grace -- it's likely one of the best singer/songwriter records of 2012, and most any year that came before.

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