“London, My Town” – The Fine Arts Showcase
The hand claps you hear at the outset of “London, My Town” aren’t just an intermittent percussive accent or atmospheric frill; they’re here for the duration of the song, soon acquiring a riveting sort of desperation about them. Hand claps are usually smile-inducing but these ones, not so much; whether organic or artificial, they have the sound of palms being driven together with an almost violent tenacity. That they do so underneath a most graceful melody adds to their disconcerting vigor. Neither for that matter does front man Gustaf Kjellvander, with his crooner’s baritone, have the kind of voice you expect to hear happy-claps behind.
And so check out how the song’s second section arrives, at 0:35, and immediately something feels like a clearing or a release. Yup: it’s because the hand claps have stopped for the moment. “And I’ve given up on truth,” Kjellvander sings at this point, accompanied by a pensive slide guitar line. “‘Cause I’m running out of youth.” Aren’t we all. And then the unyielding hand claps return. The song has something to do with Kjellvander’s moving back to Malmö from London after his relationship (the “Hanna” mentioned at the song’s abrupt end) has broken up; the entire album, Dolophine Smile, in fact, offers an unsparing look at the crumbling relationship. Set to graceful melodies.
The album, the Swedish quartet’s fifth, was released back in April 2009 on Malmö-based . “London, My Town” has just been made available as a free and legal MP3 via Adrian, in advance of the Fine Arts Showcase’s imminent German tour.
[Sad footnote: Gustaf Kjellvander passed away in 2011.]