Review: Philco Fiction – Take It Personal
Published on September 17th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
This debut album from Oslo trio Philco Fiction arrives just in time to to keep you warm this winter with a smorgasbord of squiggly, jittery, vibrant and melodic electro-pop that, topped with Turid Solberg’s seductively intense vocals, registers as an odd yet satisfying blend of Prince, Oh Land and the more baroque elements of µ-Ziq’s Royal Astronomy LP.
Opener “The Youth” kicks things off with ornate, Bjork-ish drama that could conceivably be a bonkers cover of a well-known song; yes, we’ve snuck the inevitable Bjork comparison in nice and early, but in between the string section breakdowns haunted by synth ghosts, this is an altogether poppier proposition which doesn’t sacrifice a shred of ingenuity or sophistication to be so.
Solberg’s playfully reflective lyricism also captures the imagination: “The smell of the city / Is the smell of you / Even the children of the city / Are the boy I see in you” she offers up on the sleekly baroque synth-pop shuffle of “The City”, also host to a line (“Should I eat alone? / Should I drink alone?”) that regurgitates thematic brethren across the album (“I never decide what to eat / I never lose my sleep / I’ve never been a 12-year-old boy / I’ve never been a 12-year-old girl” from the creepy psych-drama of “I Want You”, “If I find snow on my pillow / You love me / If I drink it / You love me even more” from the darkly luxurious “Too Close”, and “I’m a Scandinavian fly… Eat nothing but music” from sensational closer “Time is a Fly”).
“Your heart is colder than the winter of ’81 / I made my mind up in the winter of ’82” she declares on the Mew-ish-ly lovelorn march of “Finally”, while on “Too Nice” she seems to be singing “How do you expect me to fit into this youthful dress? / My ass is bigger than your success / I want another dress” over a track that recalls first-album Simian with a shot of The X-Files for good measure.
Perhaps the most pointedly self-referential lyric here is “Wear your music like you wear your skin” from “Horizon”, because – intentionally or otherwise – this reflects the tension between the daftly childlike and the darkly serious that exists both in her voice and the music that supports it. The seven-minute “Portrait of Silence” is notable for wielding a compelling beat that brings to mind a clubby version of the music from the levels of Super Mario World where you’re floating over lava on a raft made of bones, and aforementioned closer “Time is a Fly”comes across as a sort of chillwave/disco re-imagining of Blur’s “Gene By Gene”, scaling the keys euphorically before going out on a big synth flourish.
Take It Personal is a very good first statement, and if Philco Fiction continue to build on the elements that set them apart then the second one could yield something truly special. One of 2012’s most intriguing new acts.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Take It Personal is out now on Brilliance Records. For more information please visit philcofiction.com