Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Susanne Sundfør – Undercover

Our 2015 high scorer returns… what could go wrong?


Katherine St Asaph: No no no no no no no, just no — I do not listen to Susanne Sundfør for stodgy piano ballads one step away from Adele. If Ten Love Songs turns out to be Sundfør’s Love’s Victory March — dark, propulsive, world-destroying grandeur cast aside indefinitely for vintage-repro slowcore — I will be livid.

Alfred Soto: I hated this the moment when her voice ascended in the line, “You’re a teasing little twister.” I don’t listen to Susanne Sundfør for lovingly vacant valentines — when has she ever given the impression that she wishes she had a lover?

Ramzi Awn: Sundfør’s textbook training is impressive, and “Undercover” sounds great from another room — like a lost Kate Bush recording. But on another listen, the imitation/flattery is on the nose to the point of distraction, and the lyrics are a banal rendering of the nuance of love.

Nortey Dowuona: This feels as if it is floating, with nothing to tether it to the sullied world of the living. As Susanne sings of undercover love, the shimmering piano keys and cavernous voices build until they tower over her, surrounding and raising her higher and higher into the atmosphere until it dissipates.

Peter Ryan: Not counting “Reincarnation”, this is about as close to “innocent romantic sounds” or “Dolly Parton-inspired” as one could reasonably expect, given the album’s title and who its purveyor is. Sundfør usually installs a couple of pseudo-subdued pieces on each album to offset their extroverted siblings, but their typical stateliness is missing here — for all its profound dejection at the outset, “Undercover” transmutes itself into homespun transcendence. Nina Persson-Scandinavian-slide guitars languidly uncoil the first two-thirds’ tension into that extended haze of an outtro, Sundfør gliding off on a pair of golden wings she’s materialized in under three minutes. All signs point to it being a fake-out — “innocent romantic sounds” are to be mixed in with “industrial and dry” ones, her inspiration playlist — but if so, it’s a glorious one.

Thomas Inskeep: What the fuck is this, a self-produced 1973 private press women’s music album? Well, no, because the vast majority of women’s music was much more interesting than Sundfør’s “I’m singing with (mostly) just piano accompaniment so you can hear how much I mean it” bullshit here. If you’re looking for some superb, intimate music, seek out Cris Williamson’s landmark 1975 album The Changer and the Changed, and run as far away from this as you can.

Will Adams: I imagine this will be more powerful in context of the album — something like the first minute of “Memorial” before the power ballad drums fire up and the strings sweep in. But there’s plenty of power in “Undercover” on its own. The ornate arrangement is arresting enough, but then the song pans out to reveal a cathedral’s worth of emotion. The sudden declaration of “It wouldn’t even matter!” sounds like Sundfør breaking through the surface of the choir mass around her. As always, it’s her voice, her commitment to the theatricality of it all, that puts it over the edge.

Edward Okulicz: As an opener, or an interlude, or part of a movement this would be fine (it would fit between “Kamikaze” and “Memorial” on Ten Love Songs), but it’s thin meat while I bay for a full-blooded opus to follow-up one of the greatest albums of my lifetime, or anyone’s lifetime.

Iain Mew: The kind of insubstantial song balancing old and new that’s perfect for piquing my interest for a new album — familiarly uneasy lyrics; a new wistful warmth; that pedal steel! — but which I will never listen to on its own again.

Reader average: [10] (3 votes)

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12 Responses to “Susanne Sundfør – Undercover”

  1. I regret to inform everyone that I’ve heard the entire album, it is more or less like this

  2. good because this is probably one of the best songs of the year

  3. ^^^

  4. r.i.p. ten love songs era :( i’m going to try so hard to fall in love with this

  5. tomás otm

  6. thank you

    also mountaineers is even better so MFPIT is shaping up to be fantastic

  7. Seems some of the comments on here are created by way of limited perspective, confusing this wonderful music with “frowned upon” chart music.

  8. yes, that is correct, I have never heard anything but chart music. everything I have ever said in my entire life about music that is not chart music was made up, I didn’t actually listen to it

  9. Love’s Victory March by Lilian Hak, that well-known Billboard #1 album

  10. Well if nothing else, this discourse introduced me to Lilian Hak. That turned out to be a very good thing :)

  11. some good has been accomplished in this hellworld

  12. yep Music for People in Trouble is definitely one of the AOTYs. and even though it is slow and acoustic (but not really), there is nothing that sounds quite like this.

    also this Lilian Hak song is really good! (even if it sounds extremely 2006)

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