There’s a verse in the Bible that I love to quote when it comes to discussing albums and their artistic merits. In Ecclesiastes (the book written by the sarcastic critic), it says, “What has been before will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” When it comes to making records, this is often painfully true. But every so often a band makes an album that wears its influences on its sleeve and still sounds fresh and exciting.
This is exactly the case with Norway’s Serena-Maneesh’s eponymous debut, which borrows liberally from various cult classics. Most bands that take a dash of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, add some Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma with some Daydream Nation, Souvlaki, and even some of Dandy Warhols‘ Come Down are well on the way to a lethal injection of poison from us cynical writing bastards. But the members of Serena-Maneesh did what any great artists should do: take the usual set of colors to create a piece that feels like something unfamiliar, new and intriguing.
Emil Nikolaisen, the group’s musical mastermind, took the project to numerous locations: from Chicago’s infamous Electrical Audio to New York, Oslo, and Stockholm. He also chose to work with several different producers and engineers, as well as a diverse crowd of collaborators. (Sufjan Stevens playing flute, anyone?) The communal spirit of the recording process translated in a vibrant tapestry of guitar drones, incandescent vocal exorcisms, and swirling, captivating melodies.
Confident anthems such as “Drain Cosmetics” or “Sapphire Eyes High” show how shoegazer music is supposed to sound: assertive, encapsulating and, secretly, quite catchy. Nikolaisen’s knack with melody is most prevalent on “Un-Deux,” which showcases the band’s ability to get directly to the point.
Serena-Maneesh sounds like the kind of record many bands spend their entire careers trying to create. It makes the listener travel into the band’s feedback-drenched world, and makes you want to stay there till the epic closer, “Your Blood in Mine.” Sure, this band has been carried away on a magic carpet of Internet hype, but it’s worth every word. If it’s true that all this has been done before, then this is the best rerun we’ll probably hear in years. Eat your hearts out, Kevin Shields and Thurston Moore.
Label (with audio/video): http://www.beggars.com/Streaming audio: http://www.myspace.com/serenamaneesh