Sóley Stefánsdóttir, is a multi-instrumentalist based in Iceland. Previously with the more folky, lighter beardy Peter Bjorn and John, bums on the campfire group Seabear, she has now released three albums of classy yet never boring indie-cum-classical music.
She excels in making music which contains the powerful instrumental hedge-maze turns reminiscent of Joanna Newsom compositions, múmy delicate vocals and ethereal landscapes, all bolstered by her excellent piano compositions and a captivating ear for a rich, reflective tune.
Endless Summer is an album of sun kissed party anthems in the same way the Mogwai album Happy Songs for Happy People is a non-stop laugh fest; both the titles are likely tongue in cheek, but contain loads of sad yet somehow optimistic bangers for miserable cows like me, nonetheless.
A lot of this album has a dreamlike, melancholy, dead-of-night feel to it in the compositions and lyrics. The Bat for Lashes like ‘Never the Moon‘ talks about how no one can hear the sound of your tears, and asks “I make you happy?” as a question rather than making it as a statement.
I love how these songs tease out one beautiful, often moving melody after the other within the same song. There is a lot to reflect on and relish here.
Sóley’s talent as a composer and piano player make these songs an atmospheric cut above. The piano pieces are stunning. ‘Sing Wood to Silence”s tune is divine. Her 2014 piano album Krómantík is highly recommended and, without being disparaging, an instrumental version of Endless Summer would be an awesome listen.
Opening track ‘úa‘ is something like a grown up, throwback Disney soundtrack, a sinister wander through a forest, a feeling which continues throughout the album. It’s vivid and realised, a hand reaching out in the dark.
For the most part the record sidesteps the toothachey, brain freezey side of twee, stereotypical, wide-eyed, supernatural Icelandic sprites amazed at wonder at the world. However, the lyrics are not as superior as the musicianship. Lines like “little by little together / we fight for our dreamless life”, and “we grow and then we die” on the otherwise charming ‘Grow‘ are distractions rather than bum-chin stroking epiphany moments.
Whether you want a self-assured, confident album of classy indie piano-led songs or, alternatively, you’re planning to give an elf the stinky pinky in a fjord, like a sort of Icelandic, non-gruesomely depressing version of Geordie Shore when they get their growlers out in the hot tub, this album will be an absolutely ideal soundtrack.
Endless Summer is out now on Morr Music.