This enigmatic debut from Icelandic Indie-folk duo Minitonka is ‘mostly about depression’, admits singer Van Sveins, ‘but in a dark humour way’. ‘It’s nostalgic self-help, for when things go so bad you wet yourself… but full of hope!’ As anyone familiar with Iceland’s biggest international hit film will know, slacker culture is king here, and resonances of ‘101 Reykjavik’ abound in this compelling debut. The overall tone is a languid slacker rock sound, but at the odder and more experimental fringes of the scene.
Rise and Shine opts for the left-field option of slow march beats in a 3/4-waltz tempo underlying a grungy bass and electric organ melody, before the whole vibe is suddenly transformed as great slabs of synth lurch out of the track, as cool and vast as an Icelandic glacier. ‘Don’t you wish you could switch bodies…’, mumbles a catatonic Sveins, by way of explanation, ‘and pretend to be someone that functions normally?’
The curiously titled Anticipatory Nostalgia (The Hangout) sets a sweet and dreamy acoustic mood that trawls the yearning sensations of a lazy, blissed out evening, ‘We turn around and watch the sun go down. While we’re sitting on the doorstep. Just hanging around’.
A Distant Taste introduces a tiny ancient drum machine and a pallet of compressed hard synthesized instruments for a dislocated and repetitive mood. Iceland is a place of wild beauty and soaring landscapes, but downtown Reykjavik can be a slow grind for some residents, a claustrophobic sameness exacerbated by the small population and given a dream-like unreality by the endless bright-light daytimes of summer and the rare glimpses of sun that break up the long dark winters.
Key Fool is another upbeat number, and the most chart-friendly of the selection, musically closer to the familiar languid slacker rock sound, and lyrically intriguing. Before we can quite fathom this one there comes another outré move as the track softens into a ‘50s style backing chorus, cooing ‘bam-bom, bam-bom, bam-bom’, and a drawling closer, ‘I saw you, in Da Tai Oeng Fly. Go and get a trip to Hawaii, get high … it ain’t my business. It ain’t my problem’.