A truly excellent effort from the Danish stalwarts
Danish band Efterklang has been active for almost twenty years now, and the group is showing no signs of stopping. Their newest project, Altid Sammen, explores an incredibly diverse array of sounds, styles and instruments, and the group nails nearly every single one of these experiments. Efterklang manages to pinpoint a uniquely light and airy pocket of their indie rock sound, while still creating an album that feels fully formed and massive in scale.
The album begins with “Vi er Uendelig,” which introduces both the project’s propensity for relatively sparse instrumentation and frontman Casper Clausen’s absolutely stunning vocals (that sound vaguely like Chris Martin, in a good way). The next track, “Supertanker,” represents the group’s first real structural leap on the project. “Supertanker” includes a gorgeous instrumental break with an unreal harp part and a mildly successful attempt at a prog-ish sound on the latter half of the track. Efterklang’s mastery of the piano becomes clear on “Uden Ansigt,” where the fact that the song doesn’t really go anywhere for the first three minutes is made easier to stomach by the truly unbelievable piano part. The already solid album hits its stride with the middle three tracks, “I Dine øjne,” “Hænder der åbner sig” and “Verden Forsvinder.” With these three songs, Efterklang performs a much better version of the prog-adjacent style they attempted on “Supertanker,” employ fast-moving electronic pulses in conjunction with a deep bass line (and it works really well) and get the most out of their horn section. The body of this album is truly one-of-a-kind.
Altid Sammen briefly takes a dip in quality with “Under broen der ligger du,” which fails to piece much of anything together, aside from some twinkly synths and a truly disappointing brass solo across its nearly eight-minute runtime. Fortunately, Efterklang gets back into the right state of mind on the penultimate “Havet Løfter Sig,” where the simple piano part leaves a lasting impression and is one of the best instrumental moments on the album. The scattered background voices and Clausen’s best vocal performance also make this a standout among standouts. Finally, Altid Sammen concludes with “Hold Mine Hænder,” where the band’s prog ambitions finally come to fruition. This 7-minute beauty has a fantastic buildup with an absolutely amazing combination of instruments (combining much of what the band has used up to this point in the album), whose parts evolve and morph throughout the song. Clausen reenters with about two minutes left as if to whisk the listener away to their next adventure after these few heavenly minutes.
One could refer to Clausen’s insanely consistent and absurdly excellent vocal work as the glue that holds this album together. Across all the surprise solos, harp accompaniments and stylistic adventures, he delivers on every single track, elevating the rest of the project’s experimentation with his steadfast commitment to vocal excellence. Also, he understands when to sit back and allow the production to speak for itself. All in all, Altid Sammen is an absolute triumph for Efterklang, and it arrived just in time for the group’s twentieth anniversary.