Stina Nordenstam was never going to be a household name. But the highly reclusive Swedish songstress carved a niche for herself so distinctive, she made an art out of art-pop-obscurity. Much of Nordenstam’s power lies not in what is revealed through her music, but what she keeps private, highly guarded and ultimately hidden from the listener. Memories of a Color was a highly notable debut when the album was released in the singer’s homeland of Sweden, but it failed to make a dent or impression at the time in the North American market. Nordenstam has since dismissed the album as being misrepresentative of her art and, therefore, inessential. But Color managed to capture the sweeping mythology of the cold Swedish winters of despair. An album that explored the psychological desolation of a young woman teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown, it soon gained a following once Nordenstam hit paydirt with her follow-up, And She Closed Her Eyes, a far more realized effort that pared back the grander arrangements of her debut for a purely minimalist approach. Color, however, offered up some of the Swede’s most cinematic and unusual studies in pop music, sketching out chamber dramas of dismal love-stories worthy of Bergman and Sjöman.
One of Nordenstam’s greatest achievements is “Another Story Girl”, a sepia-toned examination of a disintegrating love affair that takes place in – where else? – an art gallery, a characteristically European backdrop for all anguished loves. Dispensing with an equal amount of dispassion and glamour, the singer documents the veiled desires that have come to strip the faith and dignity of all occupants in a dangerous love-triangle. Ending on a note of quietly murderous envy, the song trails off into a space of troubled acquiescence, and its protagonist, from a detached and observational distance, watches helplessly as three lives recede into distant memory and song…
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