As Lust for Youth, Hannes Norrvide cranked out three albums in two years, and his artistic growth was just as swift and prolific. His biggest step forward comes with International, an album that finds him moving into new territory and excelling at it. Now a trio thanks to the addition of producer Malthe Fischer as well as longtime collaborator Loke Rahbek, it's fitting that this is Lust for Youth's most expansive-sounding set of songs yet. It's also their most melodic, something that the chiming opening track "Epoetin Alfa" makes clear immediately: its fizzy synths and crooning vocals place the song closer to New Order or Depeche Mode than Throbbing Gristle. This pop sensibility was hinted at as far back as the Chasing the Light single and occasionally on Perfect View, but International plays like the mirror twin of those releases, delivering jaunty synth pop with an edge as opposed to foreboding music with the occasional hook or melody peeking through. "Illume" channels Norrvide's formerly shouty singing style into anthemic choruses topped with sparkly synths; on "New Boys," his voice adds some grit to the song's surprisingly hopeful message ("Feel like you're falling/But it passes in time/Into a better day"). Much like Zola Jesus or Trust's transition from their dark and noisy pasts to more accessible, versatile territory, Lust for Youth use hints of their previous sound to give definition to their new direction. The swooning "Basorexia" builds on Norrvide's flair for atmosphere with a romantic twist, while the album's title track polishes his industrial leanings and fondness for samples into a dancefloor-ready finale. Still, International's biggest departures deliver some of the biggest rewards: "Armida," which features guest vocals by Soho Rezanejad, is a sweeping synth pop gem that sounds little like Lust for Youth's past, but points the way toward a promising future. Here and throughout International, Norrvide and company also bring more emotional clarity, as well as sonic clarity, to their music. "Running" borrows some of M83's euphoric glow to heighten its earnest romance, while the limpid ballad "After Touch" gets even more direct and intimate without feeling heavy-handed. International announces Lust for Youth as one of the finest acts giving synth pop new life in the 2010s.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares