With strong vocals, irresistible hooks, and a soaring new wave sound, Dennis Lyxzén's new band takes post-punk to new--and old--places.



Label: Razor & Tie
US Release Date: 2013-09-24
UK Release Date: 2013-09-24

When a punk decides to move in a “new direction”, the results are often dreary. For every Copper Blue, there are six Standing in the Spotlights and a couple of Earthquake Weathers (look those up, then weep).

So I’m chuffed to admit that before I gave Dennis Lyxzén’s new band a listen, I wasn't exactly brimming with confidence. First of all, there’s that name. It’s to be pronounced “invasion”, which is not only pretentious but conjures unfortunate memories of Vinnie Vincent; besides, I keep wanting to pronounce it “Invision”, which might even be a better moniker. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. INVSN is simply the latest version of The Lost Patrol, Lyxzén’s fiercely socialist post-punk Swedish powerhouse, formed after the demise of his awesome hardcore band Refused and the sonically smoother (International) Noise Conspiracy.

Lyxzén is a talent to be reckoned with, even when he dips into the emo pool, as he did on Lost Patrol’s massively underrated Songs About Running Away. Besides, everyone needs to vent; there’s something endearing about rabble-rousers admitting that yeah, capitalism sucks, but getting your heart broken is much worse--and often more interesting. So I wasn’t sure what we were getting this time around: emotional introspection, political fury, or something in between.

To be honest, I’m still not sure. But, tell you what--when the music is this spirited, this melodic, this passionate, and this adventurous, they could be singing about model trains and I’d still be hooked. Turns out, INVSN’s self-titled album is full of anthemic power-pop in the truest sense of the term; it's undeniably powerful and genuinely poppy, and so sonically delightful you won’t even be trying to decipher anything until your third listen. The band is tight, with a charmingly old-school new wave influence--songs like “The Promise” and “Our Blood” would have fit right in on your mid-80s college-rock mixtape between “The Killing Moon” and whatever Julian Cope song was in your head that day. But the big beats and reverb-drenched guitar leads aren’t gimmicks--they’re actually great vehicles for the smart melodies and surprisingly sweet vocals, provided by Lyxzén and not-so-secret weapon Sara Almgren, herself a veteran of The (I)NC. And the bursts of noise and bits of electronica provided by the band give INVSN a punchy edge that keeps us from becoming too comfortable.

But where are they leading us with all this passion and beautiful noise? Titles like “God Has Left Us Stranded” and “Hate” hint that Lyxzén is back to his revolutionary ways, and with lyrics like “a storm is coming / a storm is coming for you” and “I can’t be the only one who’s tired / of hearing nothing at all”, the strong opener “#61” certainly feels like a socio-political rant. But with a few exceptions, INVXN never gets too specific; we have to work out the message on our own. And most of these tracks could just as easily be directed inward.

Take the assured “Down in the Shadows”, which blends industrial grunge with a bluesy rant (“They’re never gonna give you praise / when you’re crawling on your knees”) that could be directed at any boss--religious, political, personal. Or the ferocious “Our Blood”--a gem among gems--which deftly blends a chugging bass and echoing new wave guitar with pounding drums and some stunning primal screaming. “The Promise” is yet another winner, a dark look at resignation and hypocrisy that works just as well as a rant against a lover as a rage against the machine. And “It’s All Coming Back” has everything a single needs: strong percussion not too far removed from the Stone Roses, a streamlined melody, and a soaring chorus you’ll be singing for days.

I’m sure I’m missing a few points here. But oddly, the more direct songs--the lighter, self-doubting “Distorted Heartbeat” and the we-have-messed-up-everything rallying cry “God Has Left Us Stranded”--are the least intriguing (“God” is also a bit lyrically awkward and serves the only reminder that English is not the band’s first language). But again, when the music is this driving, this throwbacky, and this fun, who cares what INVSN is getting at? Whatever he chooses to call it, here’s hoping Lyxzén sticks with this lineup for a long time. No matter what he’s got to say, you’ll wanna listen.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.