If awards were given out to countries for their ‘Outstanding Contribution To Music’, then 2012′s winner would surely be Denmark. Of course lots of great music appears from all corners of the globe every year, and it’s only June so others still have time to compete, but without any doubt in our minds the Danish are currently so far out in front, scoring winner after winner, that we honestly don’t think Lionel Messi fitted with laser-guided boots could score any more frequently. This has been reflected in The Recommender’s posts, particularly throughout the early Spring, as we delivered a range of exceptional artists, from Soffie Viemose to Rangleklods. The reasons behind why this particular Scandinavian country has become so exceptionally productive would only ever be speculation, but continuing their winning form today is yet another group getting A-grades in the top class.
Giana Factory are a female trio from Copenhagen that glided onto our radars a couple of months ago. This was as they were planning to release their debut album, Save The Youth. We decided to hold on until the album actually came out before writing them up, but somehow the weeks flew past and now we finally return to cover them post-release. The double album, (if you include all the extra tracks and remixes on the ‘Deluxe Edition’), arrived last month on Fake Diamond Records and we can confirm that it’s an absolutely terrific listen. It’s been rather a lengthy journey for the trio, as this is a group that began the long path to full albumness back in 2009, when they released their debut EP, Bloody Game. This initial work gained minimal blog coverage, albeit from established commentators, such as Big Stereo and Palms Out Sounds, the latter of which seems to have followed their every move since. This is understandable as this is a band that hooks you in, like knowing you’re going to be in it for the long term from the very first date.
They claim to make “dark pop“, although this is an album with as much light as it has shade. Perhaps consider it more of an album for grown ups. Sure it’s synth pop and its expansive, grand ideas are delivered with a monotone, smile-less vocal, but what do you want, Kindergarten pop? Quite. This is synth music made with skillful hands and elevated aims. Electronic music such as this, with females softly singing over keys and ticking drums, has been sent to blogger’s inboxes so regularly in recent years that it may as well been dispensed by dumper trucks. Blame the genre’s success in the popular markets, or artists ability to self-pen the genre relatively easily upon home computers, but rarely has it been decorated with such expert proficiency. We haven’t had a synthetic album as mature and beautiful as this since Austra, and keen readers of The Recommender will remember that their album reached the top of our 2011 round-ups.
Loui Foo provides the vocals, always sung in English, whilst Sofie Johanne’s bass and synths create the winding palpitations behind her, with Lisbet Fritze giving the tunes a welcome lift from all the electronics with the guitar work. Together they turn through a rounded pop journey, which can stretch from the more straight up tambourine pop ofTrippin, where instruments are only introduced in clear layers, to the vocal twists ofRainbow Girl, which vibrates throughout its six minutes. A racing pulse can be located with tracks such as Dive or Darkness, which threaten with their constant momentum, but expert craft and precision engineering can be found on slightly slower tunes, such as the ballad, Mountain, or the incredible Joy And Deception, which thrills as much as the title suggests and is perfectly positioned at the satisfying centre of the album.
Female-fronted synthetic pop music of this kind can trace its genetic roots through anything from Goldfrapp to Cocteau Twins and back, but rarely is it delivered with this much finesse and grace. If La Roux punched the keys with ten percent too much enthusiasm, or Le Corps Mince De Francoise were having too much fun to be taken seriously, then the antidote can be found here. What ever colour they’re working with, whether it’s contrasting blacks and whites, which they apply with the keys stabbing over the beats, or mellow pastels which are witnessed with the vocals drifting over the soft build ups, it’s always done masterfully. This is the sound of synth pop done with consummate dexterity, confidently making Save The Youth an example that can be held up as one of the more successful, palatable electronic albums of the year. They know exactly when to glide smoothly and when they need to apply a little more pressure to the pedals. If Denmark continues to deliver artists with this much class, then they may as well start charging the world to listen to their output. This is so good that it elevates Denmark from leading students into university professors, and with Giana Factory we have one of those lessons that stays with you forever.
Written by Mike Bradford