[3 March 2009]
Like fellow Danes Efterklang—with whom they sometimes share members on tour—Slaraffenland are the kind of outsized musical collective that threatens to spill off of the stage and into the front row. As it turns out, they’ve got an equally large sound to match; their Sunshine EP bursts at the seams with clattering percussion, guitars, horns and electronics. Unfortunately, the end result is usually closer to a primordial soup of sound rather than a tightly focused pop song.
“I’m a Machine”, like all of the tracks on this EP, features shouted group vocals that quickly become monotonous. Still, the song’s cascading guitars and stomping drum corps keep things moving along, making the band’s sunny optimism difficult to resist. By way of contrast, a-ha’s “Take on Me” is reborn as a slow lament full of woodwinds, mournful brass and glitchy electronics. Though they get points for originality, Slaraffenland’s rendition ultimately proves to be less compelling than even Reel Big Fish’s punk-ska cover of the song. Slaraffenland’s take on Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” fares a bit better, embracing the song’s modularity and inventing new melodies to tie the various pieces of the puzzle together. Still, it’s not the sort of cover that you’ll find yourself substituting for the original.Sunshine is an interesting little curiosity that hints at bigger things but after a few spins, you’ll find little reason to take it off the shelf.