“900 Hands” traffics in the best kind of nostalgia: elusive, sweetly sad, and oddly inspiring. Sounds from the ’60s float through the song without sidetracking it; I’m hearing something timeless going on here too. Don’t miss both the opening and closing moments, which serve further to wrap this lovely, backward-glancing song in the 21st-century present.
I especially like the authoritative balance achieved throughout between reverb and clarity, which doesn’t call extra attention to itself but is highly unusual. The reverb dial is a siren song that lures more than a few musicians into the deadly rocks of stale muddiness. (They’re muddy, but they’re rocks, and they’re stale. Don’t ask. I just needed a metaphor.) With “900 Hands,” we get the warm, inviting feeling of reverb without the gummy aftertaste. (Is that better, metaphorically speaking?) The vocals, in particular, are simultaneously shaded with echo and crystal clear, somehow. Center this all around a chorus that posits a gorgeous, melancholy melody over a bustling bottom end and I’m all in. Oh, and that chord that unresolves the chorus right before it resolves, minor-key-ishly? That one you first hear at 0:44? It’s completely straightforward, and I would listen to that for days on end.
Elskling (“darling” in Norwegian, if the internet is to be trusted) is a musical project launched by Norwegian-born, San Franciso-based Marte Solbakken—with, as it turns out, a number of interesting Fingertips-related connections. Solbakken wrote the first Elskling songs while holed up in her boyfriend’s NYC apartment during the unpleasant winter of 2011. Her boyfriend, it turns out, is Van Pierszalowski, of Waters (Fingertips, June 2011) and Port O’Brien (August 2009). Meanwhile, this debut Elskling song was recorded by Jason Quever, of Papercuts (April 2011, May 2014) and mixed by Chris Chu, whose band Pop Etc used to be called the Morning Benders and were featured here three different times back in the day. So it turns out Solbakken not only knows how to write a great song, she knows who to hang out with—a not to be underestimated skill of its own.