words by tom johnson
We often, on these very pages, talk about the sparkling, fantastical magic of Nordic pop magic, that vein of exuberance that seems to infiltrate so much of the music that comes out of that area of the world. Rash are Nordic, hailing from Copenhagen, and, as their wholesome new record shows, certainly know their way around a pop song, and yet something here is different; it isn’t informed by the same aforementioned celestial, spiritual (perhaps) glow but rather buries itself in melancholy. For all of its jangle and moments of jubilance it feels strikingly forlorn – and is all the better for it.
Their debut album, Rash are Niklas Hessel (vocals/guitar), Kristine Damsgaard (cello) and Jeppe Kalnæs (drums), and they take their influence more from the mid-90s, mid-American sadcore than the striking nature of their own surroundings. The album’s foreword mentions Elliott Smith, The Go-Betweens, Low…but there’s something altogether grubbier to this record, dark corners shaped only by their own endeavours that gives the whole album a very distinct sense of time and place – wherever that might be.
Such sentiments not withstanding, Tare 955 might present itself as moody, dour even, but there’s a warm heart pumping warm blood from its core that gives it just enough spark to never slouch fully in to the dark. At times, in fact, it feels brilliantly alive, in the same way that we often feel most attuned to the world and ourselves when we reach the very end of of our tether. So while a song like ‘Kathleen’ feels markedly downbeat, all gloomy vocals and wilted instrumentation, there’s always a song like ‘Audrey’ to reassert the balance; an impassioned burst of classic indie-pop that maybe doesn’t clear the surrounding storm but certainly embraces the spectacle of such a thing; heart on sleeve and face to the wind; forging forth regardless.
Both expressive and impressive, its hard not to imagine that Rash’s debut will come to mean something wholly significant to a chosen few lucky enough to find their way to it. It might be consumed by the fog but anchor yourself somewhere close to it and you’ll be not so fearful.
The full album is released on Friday; you can buy it here and stream the whole thing below right now.