The Deer Tracks – The Archer Trilogy Pt. 2

The Deer Tracks The Archer Trilogy

Take two voices: one male, one female, both Swedish, both ethereally high, add a few floating synth lines, a whole lot of glitchy beats, some experimental weirdness and the odd glistening, soaring pop chorus, and you pretty much have The Archer Trilogy Pt. 2. The album is the second full length from Nordic duo The Deer Tracks and follows, predictably, The Archer Trilogy Pt. 1, as well as several EPs, including Prologue, which consists of a single 40 minute track, and can, incidentally, be downloaded for a mere 79p from Amazon downloads at time of writing, as they seem to consider it a single song (while iTunes price it as an album).

The Archer Trilogy Pt. 2 was apparently recorded in a remote cabin somewhere in the wilderness, and although this might instantly bring to mind a certain Canadian musician, famed for his reclusively recorded debut, The Deer Tracks have taken the same lonely method of music-making, and done it their own way. That is, made it less lonely, as there’s two of them, and come out with something that often has the same kind of achingly personal folk balladry that you might expect from the musical musings of people left alone in a remote cabin, but is perfectly pop-ified, even if it often breaks down into strange whispers and eerie mechanical whirrs. The end result is an album which can feel sharp and danceable and at the same time unnerving and strange, but somehow comes out feeling like an organic whole. Not something many bands could achieve.

If you were trying to pin it down, the glitch-ridden drum machines and strange electronics alongside the sweet vocals would probably place it somewhere near the territory of Folktronica. There’s definitely similarities to Tunng, here, who I always think of as the paradigm of that micro-genre. The Deer Tracks, though, are less folk and more tronica, and there’s a lot more of a pop influence coming through here. But trying to tie this music down seems pointless, as each song seems to show a new side to the band who must be, if their music represents their personalities at all, just a little bit schizophrenic. That, however, is not a criticism. The music is constantly changing, but always takes you to places you want to go.

‘Fa Fire’, something of a highlight, here, is probably one of the most obvious pop songs of the record, and goes someway to proving that this, rather than the experimentalism, is what The Deer Tracks do best. The chorus moves the song from lightly pulsating, beat driven, sweetness into powerful, fierce movements of swelling synths, while effortless, forceful beats propel the song forward. But the song still keeps a hint of the album’s weirdness; the childlike voices during the soft verses reciting ‘I cannot help it sometimes I want to break your neck’ in a naive falsetto, give the song something of an unnerving edge.

‘Dark Passenger’, however, throws itself entirely into this weirdness, with beats which are not quite beats and jarring, unrefined vocals. Somehow, though, these moments create a satisfying end-of-the-spectrum, which the rest of the songs on the album can bounce off, ready to hit the wondrous pop moments again, as it’s these moments really, where the music has it’s most unrestrained, free spirited appeal.

So, essentially, the album may sometimes feel a little bit too saccharine sweet, and at other times feel a little more left field than maybe you’d want it to, but in its oscillation between the two, The Archer Trilogy Pt.2 ends up as something which never quite hits the perfect mix, but comes close to either one side of that line or the other often enough to make for a great listen. This may not be an album which you’ll want to listen to forever, but if you’re looking for some upbeat folk pop with something of a weird edge to it, you might just love this.
[Rating: 3.5]

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