The Spinners

The World Is Saved (Stina Nordenstam, 2004)

In Alternative Rock, Pop, Swedish, Thor Balanon on January 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm

cold n. the sensation resulting from lack of warmth; chill.

There’s something about the idea of winter that makes me melancholy. The impossible whiteness of the landscape that covers whatever color survives is like a decidedly empty page, empty eyes that stare back at you. And emptiness is chilling. For most of us who grew up in a tropical country, this is the coldest we’ll ever feel—surveying a bare room, remembering a blank stare and regrets bouncing off empty walls. Growing up in Sweden, Stina Nordenstam is all too familiar with the cold and it’s no wonder that she writes music that is filled with pauses, echoing spaces and the soft whispers of falling snow.

cold adj. marked by errorless familiarity.

Her return to Stockholm for the recording of her 5th studio album The World Is Saved has resulted in a collection of songs that is immediately accessible yet surprisingly distant. Thirteen years of writing about longing, misery and death is finally taking its toll. Her high, breathy voice rings with the monotony of understanding. Despair is replaced by submission; raw pain with dull throbbing. The lack of inflection in her singing could very well be mistaken for boredom, or worse, a dying gasp. Her low sighs can’t muster the strength to bring to surface the blaring desperation, the rushing storm of emotions that her lyrics strongly deserve. They put a needle once in my spine / It took them so long to find it / I can’t get this porn film out of my head / Let’s get on with it, she sings flatly on the first track “Get On With Your Life”. Like a town buried in snow, everything beautiful and shattering about her words is obscured by Nordenstam’s flimsy singing and the album’s over-all wintry sheen.

cold adj. so intense as to be almost uncontrollable: cold fury.

Nordenstam’s musicians, who have delicately created a swirling soundscape of echoing bass lines, fluttering beats and inconsolable strings, salvage The World Is Saved. The arrangements are consistently stripped down; beginnings and endings blur, as the sweet, lulling melodies seem to evaporate—finally, sunshine. The spaces between the intersecting instruments help to create a an airy feel, the open window that allows the listener to catch his breath from the claustrophobic lyrics of Nordenstam.

Ultimately, The World Is Saved is still a masterpiece worthy of attention. Much like an ice sculpture, it is at once breathtaking and fragile. The coldness of Nordenstam’s worldview may oftentimes isolate, but it is the friction of loneliness and drifting melodies that create the spark that could be enough to keep an empty room on a stormy night warm.

– Thor Balanon

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