Motorpsycho - Yay!

Motorpsycho – Yay!

Yay! A new Motorpsycho album! And that’s very much a typical reaction if you are a fan of these prolific Norwegian songsters. If you came to this band through their “Gullvåg Trilogy” or the following two albums, Kingdom of Oblivion and Ancient Astronauts (all reviewed at TPA)” you may be in for a bit of a surprise as they throw something of a curve ball, citing some of their past work and influences for this album. Again they provide an album of versatility and excellent songwriting.

So, what’s the story and how did they get here, with an album which is markedly different (or is it?) from what went before. After those epic sounding albums they have returned to shorter styled song, with touches of pop and folk influences. The PR info states they are “for once playing the game instead of trying to reinvent it”. Motorpsycho have always had a lighter, softer side which has they seamlessly integrate within their harder edge, as has been demonstrated on the last few albums, mentioned above.

The songs contained here were written during the Covid lockdown, in 2021, which may be reflected in the lyrics and stripped down feel compared to what has gone before. The ten songs are of a shorter length with the whole album clocking in at forty-two minutes, music arranged by Tomas Jämyr, Hans Magnus Ryan and Bent Sæther. The production, from Reine Fiske and Lars Fredrik Swahn, has added psychedelic touches to provide a warm and inviting sound, mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab.

The songs are in a more pop/folky vein with a distinct acoustic feel, but this being Motorpsycho they throw in a mini prog epic in Hotel Daedalus, with a sound that will be familiar to what has gone before on previous albums. It appears that the band took the opportunity of lockdown to revisit their ’00s stylings to create an album that demonstrates their versatility and the quality of the songwriting.

From the opening acoustic chords of Cold and Bored, it is certain that we’re in for something different, the band delivering a gentle and beautiful song. This sets the tone for the album; melodic songs presented with careful choices of instruments. The lead promotional track, Patterns, has an almost gentle psychedelic folk feel, with moments that are, for me, reminiscent of Mew’s sound.

Now, as this is Motorpsycho, a band that will always throw up the unexpected – with great results, I might add – track eight, Hotel Daedalus, flies in the face of convention. As previously stated, it is more in keeping with the style of some of their previous releases, starting with a big sound. They have added some orchestration which gives the song a wider scope, whilst retaining that melodic side that the band are known for within the heavier sound.

Straight after that almost breathless track, a change in direction and they are at it again with the atmospheric Scarecrow, the shortest track on the album at just under two minutes. Then, finishing things off is The Rapture, which pulls back somewhat to the psychedelic/folky feel of earlier, again with some interesting instrumental choices which go a long way to fill out the sound to make for an interesting listen.

Motorpsycho have done it again with an album full of little earworms that work away, prompting the listener to hit replay. For me, the repeated plays have paid dividends and the scale, skill and quality of these songs has been revealed. This is a band that will always throw up the unexpected with great results, and this is another album from this great band that will certainly be in my top five for 2023.

01. Cold and Bored (4:01)
02. Sentinels (4:22)
03. Patterns (5:11)
04. Dank State (3:18)
05. W.C.A (4:15)
06. Real Again (Norway shrugs and stays at home) (3:03)
07. Loch Meaninglessness and the Mull of Dull (2:54)
08. Hotel Daedalus (7:46)
09. Scarecrow (1:50)
10. The Rapture (5:28)

Total Time – 42:13

Bent Sæther – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Keyboards, Wurlitzer, Omnichord, Mandolin
Hans Magnus Ryan – Vocals, Acoustic, Slide & Electric Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Tomas Jämyr – Drums, Percussion, Congas, Glockenspiel, Gong
Reine Fiske – Violin (tracks 1 & 10), Zither (1,2 & 4), Electric Guitar (1,3,5 & 9), Ambience (6), Slide Guitar (8), String Arrangement (8 & 10), Acoustic Guitars (9 & 10), Keyboards (10)
Lars Fredrik Swahn – Background Vocals (track 1), Synthesiser (1,3 & 10), Bass (1), Background Vocals (2,3,4,5 * 10), Keyboards (5 & 8), Ambience (6)
Josefin Runsten – Violins, Violas (tracks 8 & 10)

Record Label: Stickman Records / Det Nordenfjeldske Grammofonelskab
Catalogue#: NFGS0123
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 16th June 2023

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