The Deer Tracks

The Archer Trilogy, Pt. 1

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The title pretty well gives away the plan and place for this particular release from the Swedish duo in 2011 -- no rings or lightsabers are involved, it seems. At five songs and under half an hour, The Archer Trilogy, Pt. 1 could almost be more of a prelude to the whole sequence, but one that's surprisingly rich and varied in such a short time. If there's a sense of following in well-established frost art/pop veins -- the silken blend of Elin Lindfors' soft, half-whispered singing, warm bass and keyboard parts, and glitchily crisp electronic percussion -- there's a clearer hint of something more aspirational at work as well. The opening "The Smallest Cube" builds up its arrangement in a gentle swell of triumph that never fully releases, a gentle subverting of expectations. In contrast, "Ram Ram" takes off into a suddenly propulsive, soaring chorus that doesn't disrupt the genteel blend of what's come before it, halfway between sweetly precious and a more troubling, tough-minded line like "C'mon let's drink ourselves to sleep!" set to string backing and a cinematic sweep of bells, tones, and beats. Meanwhile, the lengthy "Mio," shifting between quietly calm and huge fanfare swells on a dime, takes what's become an overdone trick in indie rock as such and creates a new framing, with wordless choral vocals, keyboards, and drum hits building on top of each other. It's a careful balance struck but a successful one, something that doesn't quite fit in one corner or another and fully comfortable in the 21st century's blend of technological approach and sonic touchstones, even while retaining a "classic" feel.

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