Vi som ser i mørket
The Song With No Name
Vær Her Nå
Alt Som Er Ingenting
De Vil Forstå
Charming yet inconsistent first album from next-generation Lillebjørn Nilsen.
It's been one year since the daughter of one of Norway's most famous folk singers picked up Grappa's Debutant Prize. The result is Siri Nilsen's first album, the folk pop disc Vi Som Ser I Mørket.
The album's initial exclamation mark is Nilsen's vocals. She's got a light tone, but sings with remarkable control, falling somewhere between Tori Amos and Ingeborg Magerøy from Norwegian duo Dronning Mauds Land.
Similarities with the latter stretches beyond just the vocals. Both DML and Nilsen adhere to sparse arrangements occasionally adorned by strings and horns, with melodies and words conveying a melancholic intimacy. It's a similarity that also draws attention to Nilsen's shortcomings. It's perhaps unfair to compare the debutant to established writer Arne Berggren, but lyrics such as 'You're my prince... oh my God, oh shit, oh my God can it be any better?" feel like a teenager's unedited diary entry compared to DML's elegant prose.
The strength of the album is when the music is allowed centre stage - where lyrics and melodies are working with the music rather than galloping loosely on top of it. The chorus on opening track Huset is one example, the end segment on The Song With No Name another. But more often than not, the emphasis seems to be on delivering the words rather than focusing on song structure and melody. Nilsen's press release highlights the unpolished and intuitive qualities of her live sets - perhaps too much of that has been allowed onto the album.
Vi Som Ser... is wrapped in an unsettling juxtaposition, a duality between Nilsen's bedroom poetry and underlying whimsicality, and the calculated professionalism her band represents – a mix of session musicians and members of In the Country and Jaga Jazzist. The inclusion of three English songs further adds to this bipolarity, breaking what could have been at least a linguistic consistency.
There's a fine line between playful and naïve, between the charming and the banal. Vi Som Ser I Mørket keeps oscillating between the two, making it hard to give in to Nilsen's world.