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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Track-by-Track: Bjørn Johan Muri - Airwaves

Norway's Bjørn Johan Muri seemingly came out of nowhere during this year's Eurovision qualifiers (though really he's been a known presence for awhile now). With one of the year's best debut singles, he had a lot to live up to with the album. Luckily, it's a consistent sound. But is the quality as consistent?

1. Once Upon A Time (ft. LidoLido) - Initially underwhelming, this midtempo electro single has grown on me quite a bit. It's got a subtle, atmospheric hook with Bjørn's trademark, almost otherworldly vocals. I even like the rap now! 9/10

2. Yes Man - I can't imagine a better single to launch this album with. This is the song everyone will remember, an acoustic-electro driving-with-the-top-down pop song of the highest order. If you haven't heard it yet, you're gonna be hooked immediately. The melody's just transporting. 10/10

3. Iron Love - A ponderous track that morphs tempos and is very heavy on atmosphere and whispery, breathy vocals. It's not the kind of track that instantly draws attention to itself, but as the song grows, it becomes more and more effective. An interesting piece, for sure. 8/10

4. Circles - In a stark contrast, this is about as pop as pop gets. Instantly sing-along-able, this single failed to ignite in Norway, which is a bit of a head scratcher because, alongside Yes Man, it's one of the standouts. 10/10

5. Nothing Is For Real - Another catchy radio track, this feels like a marriage between the lush sound of Iron Love and the straight-up pop of Circles. I love the augmented vocals at the end of the chorus. The melody reminds me oddly of a BWO song. 8/10

6. Nobody Knows (ft. Kelly Mueller) - The album's first ballad, and it's a good one. Mueller's vocals complement Bjørn's wonderfully (so wonderfully that it can be hard to tell them apart at times). It's not the most exciting, dramatic thing in the world, but it's very pleasant. It reminds me of a teen pop ballad that could've been released around the turn of the century. 7/10

7. The One Who Got Away - A bright midtempo with a similar sound to Yes Man, though nowhere near as catchy. Again, totally pleasant, though it feels very much like filler. 7/10

8. Talking In My Sleep - A slow, atmospheric (I know I've used that word a lot, but it's quite apt for this album)track, this initially passed me by, but on subsequent listens I find it really captivating. The hook, especially, is very nice. Sounds like a rainy day. 8/10

9. Lights - I love this track. It begins with some warbling synth vocals before launching into a soaring melody that becomes more and more dramatic as the beat kicks in and intensifies. The vocals in the hook are heavily processed, but it makes the awesome verses stand out more so that's totally fine. 10/10

10. The Beauty Of Who You Are - An older track, which makes sense because this doesn't sound much like most of his stuff. It's more of a classic ballad, but luckily it's a good one. I do wish that it built up to more, though. And that it fit better with the album's overall sound. 7/10

Album Grade: 8.4/10

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5 Comments:

Blogger Tom Q Public said...

Sounds nice ... with any luck the CD is on its way to me ... had to rely on the proverbial "kindness of strangers" (a Norwegian student studying here), so now I'm looking forward to it even more! I'm always a bit of a sucker for Norwegian pop ... thanks for the review!

-T

8:55 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I initially was a big fan of the first half and less impressed post track 6. However, on subsequent listens I do like the album as a whole. My initial reluctance to both post YesMan singles has turned into solid appreciation (I did like them at the time but felt they weren't as strong as Yes Man) and they work much better for me in the confines of the album. It's a solid piece of work throughout and I just wish he had a bit more oomph behind the album campaign. It seems positively laid back!

12:01 AM  
Anonymous alex said...

He's fame pre-MGP (Eurovision) was from coming 2nd in Pop Idol 2007. The winner has hardly been seen ever since.

"Iron Love" was the track that caught my attention first (singles aside).

4:46 AM  
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1:00 AM  
Anonymous Pranav said...

I am actually quite a fan..I especially love "Once upon a time" - even more than "Yes Man". Besides, these two, I have only heard "Nobody Knows" - which is nice but not earthshattering.

8:55 PM  

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