In the music world, Norway is probably best known for fostering black metal and its subsequent rivalry with Swedens death metal scene. While their Scandinavian neighbor is also world-renowned for spawning so many captivating pop artists in stark contrast to the doom and gloom of metal, Norwegian exports have not been quite as numerous. Perhaps another Sweden versus Norway musical duel is in the cards, with Topp Stemning PÃ¥ Lokal Bar, the recently released American debut from electro-pop outfit Casiokids that is, according to Polyvinyl, the first Norwegian-language pop music ever to be released in the U.S.
The festive spirit of Topp Stemning PÃ¥ Lokal Bar is best summarized by its title, which translates in English to great vibe at local bar. Opener GrÃ¸nt Lys I Alle Ledd is full of pep, to say the least, with its vintage synth beats and fetching guitar riff. The catchy rhythm on the short but sweet instrumental Fot I Hose is one of the most enticing on the record and finds a long-term place in the bumping head of the listener. Verdens StÃ¸rste Land is reminiscent LCD Soundsystem mixed with Afro-beat and also appears an excessive three more times on the second disc of remixes and covers included with the album.
The dance party continues with the infectious groove of Finn Bikkjen!, the lyrics of which seems to be about vocalist Ketil Kinden Endresens lost dog. Not that it matters either way, because language is no barrier in the enjoyment of electro-pop. Analog synths and the keyboards of the bands namesake take a backseat to some propulsive percussion and an irresistible melody on album highlight Min Siste Dag, which inspires handclaps and singing along to the indecipherable falsetto.
The final three songs of Topp Stemning PÃ¥ Lokal Bar are the ones that defy simple classification. En Vill Hest incorporates samples of tribal chanting with the now familiar Casiokids sound. Gomurmamma is the albums second and final instrumental track and stands apart from the rest of the album, but it’s an awkward fit and is ultimately forgettable. Album closer Togens Hule begins as another instrumental track with a charming double dose of synths chiming along until the “ya yas from album opener GrÃ¸nt Lys I Alle Ledd resurface with choir-like harmony.
Topp Stemning PÃ¥ Lokal Bar may feel largely familiar, but its an easily likable introduction to a band with considerable potential. Casiokids finely crafted hooks and melodies should prove pleasing to fans of the synthier side of indie rock or general quirkiness.