ALBUM MEMENTO MATERIA, PLAYGROUND RELEASE: DECEMBER, 2000, FEBRUARY 5, 2001 (FINLAND) REVIEW: MARCH 5,
I remember reading an interview with The Cardigans in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat several years ago. The reporter was in awe of this cool Swedish cosmopolitan band and lamented the impossibility of such a band ever being formed in Finland.
Today Finland is such a hotbed for smart, international and professional acts that Sweden might have to duck and cover. That goes especially for electronic music. A band called Super blends Saint Etienne, club beats and easy listening with great finesse, while Pepe Deluxe beat most French dance acts at their own game. Anyone curious about the Finnish scene, also be sure to check out Giant Robot, Supperheads, Op:l Bastards and Don Johnson Big Band.
And then there is Neverwood. They've been around since 1995 and have previously released an album. Now, with new singer Saara Hellström, a new Swedish record deal and a better defined sound, the band seem to have things going their way at least in Finland. And deservedly so.
"Trapped Inside" contains an intriguing variety of styles. Portishead has obviously provided lots of inspiration, but Neverwood don't share the former group's hip hop references, though Raymond Ebanks from Bomfunk MC:s does some guest rapping on "Ghost City".
Neverwood's blend of trip hop rather seems to draw on the ethereal gothic sound (as heard on the Projekt label releases) as well as melancholic pop. Here and there, a cool funky groove lightens the mood, as in the wonderful "Astroman", my favourite song. The last piece "Carpe Noctem" is an uplifting ballad reminiscent of Dead Can Dance. All songs are strong in melody and character; nearly any one of them could be released as a single.
Saara Hellström's evocative voice and the addictive choruses of this remarkable record assure me that the poor reporter in Helsingin Sanomat hardly needs to worry nowadays. Anyway, she is probably too busy interviewing the very bands that she used to think couldn't exist in Finland.