It's been barely six months since their last album, and here we go again. Kent's new album, "En Plats I Solen" (a spot in the sun), is absolutely awesome.
The dansable electro-synth-trend that started with their 2007 Tillbaka till Samtiden album has subtly continued towards the sound of New Order and as a whole towards a softer, polished summer-themed sound, which make the title all the more appropriate. As usual, the level of polish is astounding and the production value through the roof. If you like New Kent, you'll love this album. If you don't like New Kent, I'm here to inform you that Isola and Hagnesta Hill albums haven't disappeared and they're still as good as ever.
I find it mindboggling that Kent, only six months after their last album, can pull this rabbit out of a hat. Either the band is on a roll, or the story that floated around the Isola/Hagnesta Hill era are true; as it was told, singer/songwriter Joakim Berg wrote 30+ songs per album, only picking out a third or half for the album, some being released as B-sides, the rest disappearing to the ether. Perhaps he did this for Röd, and instead of releasing the pieces that didn't make it to that album as B-sides, collected them and added them to this album. Good thing he did, because it's a masterpiece.
“Röd” (Red) is the newest (released today) album from Swedish rock-turned-electro-pop band Kent; a band arguably responsible making a masterpiece of every album. Red is no different. The sound is, if that was even possible, even more electronic, dansable and polished than their last album, Tillbaka til Samtiden.
While hard to exactly label, it’s clear that these guys have been listening to Depeche Mode, Royksopp, New Order and The Cure. On top of that, I get the vibe that these guys have enough money, enough life experience and enough of a distaste of the media, that this tristesse and malaise seeps into the very music. Not only in the text, but in the titles and the rapidly style-changing music. Here’s one such odd (but awesome track) from YouTube:
Here’s another good song.
I can’t decide whether this one is better than their previous outing, but one thing is for sure: it’s a six heart experience.
Tillbaka Till Samtiden (Back to our contemporary age) is the title of the 7th studio album from swedish band Kent.
To Kent fans reading this, first a guide to listening: this is not a traditional Kent album. Listen to it as you would a new Depeche Mode or Radiohead album. It’s not the same old, so don’t expect it. Now a quick message from Kent:
I’m pretty sure the above is direct message from Kent to the fans that are inevitably going to dislike their new sound. It actually says “We’re 37+ now. We’ve made six albums and an EP in the same overall style. We want to do something different now. If you don’t like it: here’s where you get off the train.”
Really. All of the above pretty much sums up how different the new Kent album is compared to the old ones. While it might sound negative, I actually think Tillbaka Till Samtiden is a fantastic album. It just took me a while longer to get there. Certainly my first reaction was negative; there’s already plenty of electro pop to go around. Having given it a thorough listen, though, I’ve found that it has the usual marks of genius that exist on all of their previous albums. Good lyrics, hummable melodies and in this case, extremely well-produced and over-polished. It may in fact be too polished, but in any case it’s a good album. Vid din sida and Vy från ett luftslott are personal favourites so far.
This April, Kent played their only second concert following their new album release. This event took place in the excellent and intimate concert house of Vega in Copenhagen.
The contents of this entry is interesting only fans of Kent. If you have no idea who Kent is, you should probably waste your time elsewhere.
Now that only the fans are left, what’s more fanboyish than posting the tracklist of said concert. Not much, that’s what. Thus I present to you, the tracklist in all it’s glory.
Berg & Dalvana
Romeo återvänder Ensam
Musik Non Stop
Innan Alting Tar Slut
Palace & Main
Den Döda Vinkeln
Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (15 år Senare)
It’s hard to communicate the exact quality of this concert, as there are many variables involved. On one hand, if I’m not mistaken this is the second (the first was April 22nd) Kent concert in 2 years. Secondly, since it was only the beginning of the tour, some instruments and sounds are certain to change while Kent gets accustomed to their new material.
That said, there were some songs that were so fantastically, eminently excellent that communicating their value in words is impossible. Hence, it makes sense that I comment on each track played.
1. 400 Slag from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
I actually expected them to open with this song. Not only because they open the album with this one, but also because the structure of the song is perfect for it. Unfortunately, this song suffered from a few things. What sounded like a strange configuration in volume turned down the drums and bass to be much lesser than the album version dictates. Furthermore, the guitarist seemed to lack practice, and jumped a little easily over passages. On the upside, there were some improvised riffs at the end of the song, that were very interesting.
2. Kärleken Väntar from Vapen & Ammunition (2002)
Jumping straight to an old classic was a good idea. The volume was correct, and they all knew their place. Very nice.
3. Ingenting Någonsin from “Kent” (Selftitled) (1995)
Much to my surprise, they jumped way back in time to their first album and played this excellent and rocking song. Well delivered.
4. Max 500 from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
Like 400 Slag, Max 500 is new material that relies heavily on synthesizers. While this song was definitely better played out than 400 Slag, it also suffered severely from too low a volume on the drums. If you know this song, I’m sure you can imagine that it loses punch with the drums toned down.
5. VinterNoll2 from FF/VinterNoll2 (Double-single) (2003)
As much a surprise as their early material, they played this straight-to-single song. It’s great, make no mistake, but in my experience Kent rarely plays B-side material (although Kent themselves do not call this song a B-side material, it is not to be found on any album, kinda like The Cure’s “Burn”). In this song, the drums play a heavy part, and considering their problems with their previous songs it surprised me that they were spot on this time. Excellent.
6. Berg & Dalvana from Hagnesta Hill (2000)
Beautiful ballad track that gained a little extra punch from being played live. Very nice.
7. Romeo Återvänder Ensam from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
This is a song I always overlook when I pick songs from the new album. When it does find it’s way into my rotation, I am reminded how much a mistake this is. It is a damn great song, and it rocked Vega when they played it. This is one of the songs that made this a good experience, despite their qualms with some of the other material.
8. Musik Non Stop from Hagnesta Hill (2000)
In an impressive display of coolness, this song was played in direct succession to the previous one. Quite simply, they slowly paced in to the new riff. Always a good song live.
9. Innan Alting Tar Slut from Isola (1997)
One of the most silent tracks from Isola, Innan Alting Tar Slut is a beautiful piece. It surprised me quite a bit to hear it played out live. It was surprisingly well executed. Many aspects were intentionally improvised. The whole watery sound it has on the album was amplified and elaborated. This changed the song quite a bit, and in a most excellent way. This is what live music is all about.
10. Klåparen from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
The very first time I listened to this song, I immediately knew it was something special. But I’ve also felt as though the guitar riff was stolen from some other song, I just haven’t been able to place it. Having heard it a thousand times since then, I can now enjoy the song, and in it’s live version it was great.
11. Palace & Main from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
On the album, this song is one of the very best. It was equally good live.
12. 747 from Isola (1997)
Any Kent fan that’s been to more than one concert will know that when 747 is played, it’s either the last song, or the “beginning of the end”. Also the case for this concert. As always, a great song.
13. Kevlarsjäl from Hagnesta Hill (2000)
A good song played well.
14. Den Döda Vinkeln from Du & Jag Döden (2005)
Now we’re talking. My personal favourite on the new album, and a candidate for “Best Song Ever”, Den Döda Vinkeln was exactly that at this concert. Fan-fuqin-tastically played. Pure hot butter.
15. Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (15 År Senare) from Du & Jag D?den (2005)
If any song can top “Den Döda Vinkeln”, it’s this song. And oh boy did it. This song is the perfect union of Swedish music heritage, rock, great melody and songwriting. It’s quite simply a rock-history pearl. No words I can write here can describe the absolute excellence of hearing this song played live. It was exquisite in such a way that if you’re truly a Kent fan reading this, you should feel an aching hole in your stomach: you missed out – bigtime.
If you’ve read this far, you’ll have a much better idea as to why this concert is hard to rate. It certainly was an interesting experience, and with some great moments. Still, some of their weaker moments made long parts of the concert somewhat lesser. In other words, it was a mixed pleasure.
Still, their two closing tracks could make up for almost anything. And let’s be honest—any band that can get a crowd to sing “we’re all going to die someday” (vi ska alla engång dö) is a band that knows what it’s doing.