Out of Touch
For the last decade, artists such as Robyn, Lykke Li, Annie and Fever Ray have redefined Scandinavian pop music. While all have different voices, they collectively have built on the proud pop traditions of Scandinavia that started with ABBA. Each of these artists has mainly incorporated electronic influences into her pop music. All have had sugary sweet pop hooks and melodies. Yet, none has taken this motif and expanded it quite like the Asteroids Galaxy Tour. The band, consisting mainly of vocalist Mette Lindberg and producer Lars Iversen, arrived in 2008 to take advantage of this new pop scene. That same year, they released their debut album Fruit, an album oozing of style but less of substance. Yet, it was still a promising debut.
Almost four years later, they have released their second album, Out of Frequency. With this album, they have decided to abandon any previous notions of creating a serious album, instead deciding to go even further into an all-style, no-substance approach. The follow up to their debut has the Asteroids Galaxy Tour creating one of the most stylistically impressive albums of the year; unfortunately, in terms of music, it falls short.
Fruit had a few fantastic pop songs, including singles “Around the Bend” and “The Golden Age” being used for commercials for Apple and Heineken, respectively. The new single “Major” is even slicker in production than either of those two numbers, but it suffers in comparison. The production is well done, but when layers of instruments appear on every track, the gloss of the music makes it too kitschy. The high squeals of Mette Lindberg certainly don’t help the track or the record. She is much less restrained here than on the debut; the whole record suffers from this lack of self-discipline. Used properly and sparsely, Lindberg’s voice is a unique instrument that can inject joy into music. Used poorly however, her voice is incredibly grating. Small doses of her voice would be the best approach; unfortunately, she’s the one and only vocalist for the band.
Yet another problem is the length of the album. Forty-seven minutes is too long for any pop album, let alone one with a possibly aggravating vocalist. A good pop album is quick, breezy, and catchy. Over 47 minutes, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour struggles to achieve even one of those three traits. The pop sense that they showed in their debut is lacking on Out of Frequency. The second single “Heart Attack” is a decent tune, but not fantastic. When an album is this long, however, one or two respectable songs cannot save it.
In the end, the length of Out of Frequency and the strident tendency of Lindberg’s voice are what handicap the Asteroids Galaxy Tour. It is understandable for them to create a theatrical or cartoonish album—the tools at their disposal make this a logical choice. However, even with this tendency, some restraint is needed. This is where the Out of Frequency falls apart. A more limited use of Lindberg’s voice and cutting out less essential tracks would make Out of Frequency a more tolerable listen. More problematically, the issues that the Asteroids Galaxy Tour face are not easily fixed. Finding a new vocalist should be the number one goal of the band. Of course, that would also destroy the aesthetic of the band as well. Hopefully, the band can learn and improve just by telling Mette Lindberg to stop wailing like a banshee. At some point, cute music stops being fun and starts becoming irritating. On Out of Frequency, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour may have crossed that line.