The debut album by Sweden’s Korallreven has been eagerly anticipated for over two years now. Each of their four single releases, beginning with 2009’s “Loved-Up,” has led to increasingly greater buzz and increasingly higher expectations for their first full-length album. Unusually, An Album by Korallreven actually meets, and at times even exceeds, the lofty standards it is being judged against.
Korallreven begun as an idea conceived by Swedish travel journalist Marcus Joons when travelling Samoa in 2007. Joons was soon joined by Daniel Tjäder of the Swedish dream pop act The Radio Dept., and An Album by Korallreven sees the fulfillment of their dream. The pair use the album concept to its fullest, with Joons and Tjäder creating a suite of music rather than a collection of songs, a suite where each song plays an important role but where the sum is far greater than its parts.
Korallreven utilizes the vocal abilities of Taken by Trees’ (and former The Concretes singer) Victoria Bergsman on “As Young As Yesterday” and “Honey Mine” to great effect, and it is easy to hear why these were chosen as two of the pre-album singles, as Bergsman’s vocals gives the listener something to grab onto before being pulled into the swirling music. The immediacy of “As Young As Yesterday” draws in the listener to the sound, which takes hold of you, and the album doesn’t let you go until the last notes of the world music-tinged “Comin’ Down” trails away.
Despite the heavy use of electronic instrumentation, An Album by Korallreven does not sound or appear synthetic at all, instead it is one of the most natural-sounding albums I have heard. Musically it incorporates the electronics and acoustic instrumentation into a seamless balearic sound, which not only takes influence from western music, but also utilizes Joons’ experiences as a travel writer to create a sound that incorporates influences from all over the world without it seeming forced in any way.
Ultimately An Album by Korallreven lives up to the high expectations that surround it, and it is a testament to the fact that the album format is well and alive in the digital age. Due to Korallreven’s focus on the full LP several of the songs are not as immediate as we are used to nowadays which may result in listeners abandoning the album without giving it the attention it needs and deserves, but surely that would be their loss. If you give the album the chance it deserves you will be rewarded by one of the strongest LPs you are likely to hear this year.