There’s an old saying about there being bliss in chaos, and Norway’s prodigal son Even Johansen, on his first album under the Magnet moniker, is eating up every word of it. The eleven-track On Your Side is full of so much sadness that you can’t help but become comfortable with his maudlin look at life as each track unfolds. Like a sigh, Johansen’s voice trails like a cloud of cigarette smoke, flowing from a jazzy rancor to sugarcoated bliss (see opener “Everything’s Perfect”). All the while, his lyrics feel buried somewhere inside his chest.
Each track is elaborate in its construction, but by the sixth track, “Nothing Hurts Now,” the troubled troubadour has sought comfort in unveiling the miserablist within. But as isolated as the album feels, it’s supported by strong orchestration, giving songs like “Last Day of Summer” and “Overjoyed” a depth that can only be discovered and enjoyed after repeated listens. And becoming addicted to his album shouldn’t be a problem: The cover of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” (featuring Gemma Hayes) has already done the rounds for me and will continue to do so with its chugging delivery. It feels like Portishead on Quaaludes.