BSÍ or ‘brussel sprouts international’, the Icelandic pop-duo of Silla Thorarensen and Julius Pollux Rothlaender have returned with their debut album, a collection of two EP’s, Sometimes Depressed… and …but always antifascist. Following on from their debut self-titled EP released in 2018 the band have sought to refine their sound into two distinctive stories and collections. With the title of the album coming from a slogan the band saw at a punk festival, they have crafted an album that showcases the melancholia and abrasiveness that defines them.
On Sometimes Depressed… the band blend together elements of dream-pop, 80’s synth pop and indie rock to make a collection of songs that are ultimately infatuating. From the moment the ethereal synthesisers of “My Lovely” kick in you’re transported away from whatever situation may encompass you and sailed along on a cloud of melancholia, carried by Thoransen’s swaying and soothing vocals. It’s these tender moments that truly allow the band to evoke the true emotional depth of their sound. “25Lue” recreates that feeling of travelling back on the last train of the evening, staring at the lights from the houses as they pass you by, wondering if your story would ever end up somewhere like that. “I guess we were looking for signs, in all the wrong songs” contemplates Thoransen over the dotted synthesisers and sweeping pads. Looking for the answers of the great unknowns in the widest of spaces.
There does become moments when the bands sound is slightly too washed out in momentary sadness that it can be hard to distinguish the tracks from each other, spilling over the sides without too much distinction. On “Old Moon” the band teeter on the fine line of minimalism and vague ambience that never really comes to a conclusion on where it wants to go. Just as they’re about to reach an emotional breakthrough, they decide to float along the river of gentle melodies that extend out for just that bit too long. They ask you to ride along with them, but end up pushing you out too far, waving you by at the shore.
For all the melancholia found on the first EP, …but always antifascist has an equal amount of unbridled joy; the band are simply having fun. Springing into life with “Vesterbæjar Beach” the band fuse elements of surf rock and indie pop whilst playing slight homage to Phillip Oakley’s timeless love tale “Together In Electric Dreams”. Still encompassing elements of subtle sadness, the band flip the script on their sound with “My knee against kyriarchy”, crafting a sound that makes you wanna jump around a small packed basement, then later on the train reading into the lyrics and crying over that long lost love you had 10 years ago.
If the first half of this album was the band sitting in the shower, contemplating the trials and tribulations of life, then the second half is all about throwing the towel away and swinging your hair about, like, to put it simply, you just don’t care. “Dónakallalagið” is the band embracing this attitude in every sense. It’s fast, punchy and ultimately scrappy at its core. The level of juxtaposition that this brings to this album alone shows just how much dexterity the band are giving themselves. Not to be defined by a genre or sound, but by whatever appropriate outfit may suit them at the time.
If anything this album is a springboard for the band to become whatever they want to be. It lives within a space of its own, spawned from two individuals that are able to craft emotion into whatever sound or style they choose, with almost unchallenged success. This is music best served late at night when you are switched off from the world and can enter the one BSÍ have crafted.