“Motorhead” – Centimeter

Elegant and elegiac, “Motorhead” has the sweet sad momentum of an old synth-pop anthem and yet—it takes a while to realize this—there aren’t really a lot of synthesizers here. This is mostly guitar rock, even though that fact is skillfully disguised by the pounding of a piano-like keyboard and the strategic use of glockenspiel in the introduction. And then maybe the coolest misdirection of all is the human drummer here who mimics an electronic beat but is indeed an actual person (Henrik Holmlund, to be specific) with drum sticks.

Even though the lyrics are in English and are understandable word by word (if not thought by thought), I am not sure where the title comes from and whether it has anything to do with a) the old metal band Motörhead or b) the Hawkwind song “Motorhead” that inspired the band’s name in the first place or c) Lemmy Kilmister, who wrote the song while in the latter band but later founded the former band. I do know that the lyrical climax is at once jarring and potent, which is when the initial lyric “Before the time has come/And we end up in bed” (0:59) is altered one minute later to “Before the time has come/And we all end up dead.” I also know that singer Johan Landin has a wonderful, effortless baritone, hitting the elusive sweet spot between blasé and theatrical. If Depeche Mode had lightened things up a bit and laid off the synthesizers, they might’ve sounded something like this.

Centimeter is a Stockholm-based foursome who have been together since 2004. Their first album, recorded in Swedish, was self-released in 2006. “Motorhead” is from their first English-language album, expected out later this year. MP3 via the band. They haven’t gotten much attention yet in the blogosphere so spread the word on this one.