There was a whiff of novelty act when these Swedish sisters singing country-tinged folk music with a You Tube hits-heavy cover of a Fleet Foxes song first appeared in 2008 but any cynicism quickly evaporated when people heard their songs and fell in love with those voices and harmonies. Three albums down the track they are still singing strongly but they now sound very vanilla in the sea of folk-pop that has permeated the musical world.
Stay Gold feels tame and reserved, safe in its ambition and its delivery. There is a sheen that covers the album, that polish that removes any grit and reality from the music in the name of production quality and market segment. On their earlier releases the acoustic guitar was more localised in the mix allowing the vocals to take centre-stage. Here everything is sucked into a vortex of strings and billowing reverb, clearly designed to take them into the same market as The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and the more indie-leaning sound of Of Monsters & Men. In that sense they’ve achieved their goal.
For all its homogenisation there are still songs that fight their way through. Cedar Lane possesses a wonderful lilting melody while Heaven Knows is a fun, pop-fuelled hoedown with a screamed “straight to hell” in the middle that will surprise some listeners with its sudden display of emotion. There is really little to dislike here but in the hands of a different producer who could reinvigorate their sound it could have been so much more.
this review was first published in The Music