Ólöf Arnalds


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The fourth long-player from the ghostly Icelandic singer/songwriter and cousin of ghostly Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, Palme arrives just one year after 2013's bucolic Sudden Elevation, and while it retains its predecessor's magical lilt, it's an icier confection that's as pure as powdered snow, yet bubbling over with fairy mischief. At just over half-an-hour, Palme doesn't mince words; its pleasures are meticulously crafted and perfectly executed, and they succeed or fail based only on which way the listener falls in regards to Arnalds idiosyncratic voice, much like Joanna Newsom's. Musically, Palme is a melting pot of Icelandic electro-folk, worldbeat, indie rock, ambient pop and something else altogether, and it works best as a whole, blithely weaving its way from beginning to end like a pair of Hobbits returning to the Shire after a long adventure -- this is a country where people protest the building of new highways that interfere with the natural habitat of elves. That said, while tracks like the languid and lovely "Turtledove" and the like-minded title cut soar above the listener in the most pleasing and comforting way, songs like "Defining Gender" and "Patience," with their knotty arrangements and serpentine melodies, add an undercurrent of the mystical to Palme that renders even the simplest fruits deliciously unattainable. Arnalds, like her cousin, is a weaver of ephemera, and with each new collection of music, she both defines herself and furthers her own mythology, a mythology that's wholly intertwined with the lore of her Nordic homeland.

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