When the Scandinavian music scene is mentioned, thoughts typically go toward Iceland’s ambient post-rock like Sigur Rós or Sweden’s wealth of indie pop. Efterklang hail from Denmark and fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. While their earlier material leaned closer to post-rock, Magic Chairs is filled with lush orchestral instrumentation and vocal hooks that manage to capture that particular brand of melancholy. In Danish, the word Efterklang refers to a remembrance or reverberation. It’s an apt title for the band, as lyrically there seem to be a lot of references to memories.
Album opener ‘Modern Drift’ sets the tone for the record; new layers are added as the song plays on. This textured approach makes Magic Chairs highly rewarding on repeat listens. With each listen, a new sound or background melody is revealed, although there are times when the vocals themselves prove to be somewhat distracting. During several songs I found myself deeply entranced by the instrumental sections and wishing there were more of them. ‘Scandinavian Love’ stands out as being a little too cheery for the rest of the album. The bouncy horn-filled chorus seems out of step with the hazy, longing atmosphere found elsewhere. ‘Raincoats’ fares better, managing to sound somewhat optimistic with wordless female vocals complimenting the horns, but with a weary undercurrent.
Prior to hearing this album, I had only known Efterklang by reputation, as a friend is a huge fan. The band hasn’t completely won me over, but there are sparks of brilliance on Magic Chairs that make me want to hear more from them.