With the first two breath-taking singles taken from their new album providing spicy and diversely flavoursome appetisers, Swedish urban-folk collective Billy Momo faced not only eager anticipation but greedily demanding expectations here, and most likely everywhere, in regard to Drunktalk. Of course it and the seven-piece from Stockholm swiftly fed all those wants, unsurprisingly but thrillingly casting fifteen songs which croon, seduce, and romance ears and imagination. Admittedly still those early tracks, I’ve Got You and the album’s title track, remain as the pinnacles of the release and enjoyment but every caress and twist of Drunktalk leaves the richest transfixing experience and pleasure.
Originally a duo brought to life by Tomas Juto and Oskar Hovell, and now a riveting septet with Tony Lind, Mårten Forssman, Oscar Harryson, Christopher Anderzon, and Andreas Prybil alongside the founders, Billy Momo has persistently sparked attention and potent support since the self-release of debut album Ordinary Men in the closing shadows of 2011. It is fair to say though that the past few months, especially around those previously mentioned singles has seen the band become a keenly sought presence further afield, the UK and US especially. it Is easy to expect that Drunktalk will only accentuate and accelerate that spotlight and hunger, such its emotional and inventive charm alongside mouth-watering variety and adventure.
The album opens with the first single taken from its fascinating body, I’ve Got You providing an irresistible introduction and scene setter for the album. Gentle and endearing melodies from guitar and keys embrace ears and thoughts first, their romance soon coloured and reinforced by an emotive caress of strings as the musical narrative slowly broadens. The start alone is inescapably bewitching but once the strings reveal a thicker drama with the deep throated croon of the cello adding its voice, the song is sheer majesty. Their scything strokes of orchestral incitement provide exhilarating bait to which gripping harmonic vocals and the melodic theatre of the song unveil new virulent temptation. The baroque aired song is quite glorious, as on its first unveiling last year still one of the most striking and compelling songs heard anywhere.
Wishing Ain’t No Sin leaps on ears with the same attention grabbing quality straight after, its banjo twang and devilish enterprise a unique mix of seemingly dark country and Nordic folk. The song strolls with a creative and melodic swagger, a strong lure which, with again impressive vocal combination and colour, becomes an instant addictive lure for the feet and voice of the listener. It is a potency virtually all songs upon Drunktalk possess, especially the album’s following title track. Once more the opening of the song ensures body and mind are gripped before it fully reveals itself, here resonating ticking and clunky chain swipes startling before a wonderfully dark melodic and the ever outstanding vocal union emerge around them. The song is pure intoxication, voice and keys as infectiously seductive as strings and harmonica, and like the opener but in its own deceptively contagious way, infests and enthrals the psyche and heart. Think Nick Cave and Helldorado with a splash of Dennis Hopper Choppers, and you have an inkling of the alchemy at work.
The high bar set by the album continues with the catchy It’s Mine, a song starting with mischief in its melodic tempting and an increasing vaudevillian nature to its gypsy folk revelry. Once more it is impossible for body, voice, and emotions not to be enlisted in the enticement of the irrepressibly magnetic adventure, its enticement the appetiser for further unpredictable variety with firstly the soulful Keep It Unreal and straight after the fascinating proposition of Shine Like The Devil. The first of the pair also offers a blues and pop colouring to its warmly swaying and again contagious proposal whilst the second weaves in emotive shadows and haunting ambiences into its tapestry of golden harmonies and radiant melodic twists.
The sultry seventies psych kissed climate of Keep Dreaming comes next. It bursts from an almost melancholic bordering on portentous intro into a feisty stride of beats and guitar invention within delicious harmonies and emotional reflection, musically and lyrically. Maybe more of a slow burner than previous tracks it still has ears and thoughts bound before letting the country spiced Oh Lord and the following La La Land to have their moment. The first of the pair is an easy listen with plenty to intrigue and provoke the imagination but fails to find that final spark to inflame the passions, though again it is a constantly welcome companion for time and ears. Its successor as you might suspect has plenty of la-las to its romp but also a web of fleet footed beats and heated melodies which with the equally ripe vocals, provides an anthemic lure.
Setting things up with the western bar room quaintness of Drifting Away, the album hits party time with The Weekend, its blues rock/ jazz folk dance just as eagerly spiced by a country rock liveliness, a mix soon having feet tapping heartily and without inhibition. The two tracks continue the striking landscape of new flavours and ideation within Drunktalk, a quality continued through the two ballad bred encounters of the cinematically aired and emotionally provocative Headlights, and the haunted elegance of Waiting for Walls. The latter of the two ventures back into that earlier vaudeville like spicing, this time though staying in more emotionally shadowed and darkly mellow corners. They are two more tracks which may not manage to live up to the early heights of the album, but each offers something engrossing and spellbinding in their own distinct ways.
New Grounds provides the meatiest moment of the album, keys and energy having a muscular edge to their commanding lures whilst another country seeded spicing colludes with tangy melodic drama and a different vocal offering, in a pulsating stomp. The track never slips its reins but is the perfect tease because of it, relishing its moments of lively quickstepping to raise the temptation to even greater potency.
The acoustic croon of Let’s Make The Night Last Long brings the magnificent Drunktalk to a close, the album everything hoped for after the band’s previous singles but so much more too. Every song has its own identity and character in sound and intent but all sit seamlessly in the whole romance of the must investigate album. Just be warned though that once a song like I’ve Got You has its seeds fermenting inside, there is no escape.
Drunktalk is available on Hype Music from February 2nd
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I am loving this album and this band. Had not been aware of them until this release. Excellent review. I just wanted to let you know that that I quoted your review on my site and gave a link back to you. http://audiobonsai.com/2015/02/07/billy-momo-ive-got-you/
Thanks so much, and yes a real gem of an album.