PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

The Perishers: Sway

Michael Franco

The Perishers are just a rock band that plays rock music that doesn't try anything innovative or revolutionary. Sometimes, if you're skilled enough, that's all it takes.


The Perishers

Sway

Label: Nettwerk
US Release Date: 2005-04-12
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

I've always felt that a rock song should do one of three things: rock, groove, or lilt. If it doesn't achieve one of those three objectives -- or, if it's really good, a combination -- it probably isn't worthy of the spot in your CD player. This, I realize, is a gross oversimplification, but it's intended to be. After listening to the Perishers' EP Sway, however, I am forced to add a fourth objective -- lull -- which is exactly what the band's songs do. Their music feels like the bittersweet timelessness of a Sunday afternoon drive, when life seems both permanent and simultaneously slipping away from you. This is to say that the Perishers avoid the obvious route of overwhelming through bombast; rather, they overwhelm through a subtle accumulation of nuance, melody, and texture, burrowing into the psyche rather than provoking a response from the body. An initial listen to their music encourages little more than another listen, but the cumulative effect of repeated listens leave you in a reflective, melancholy spell, somehow longing for more.

The Perishers hail from northern Sweden, and lead singer Ola Klüft attributes his entrancing songwriting to his environment. "In the north the winters are very, very long and cold and dark," Klüft notes. "It affects me a lot... we write songs that creep into you and stay there." Indeed, a somber yet faintly hopeful mood pervades Sway, a collection of five songs from the band's new full-length release, Let There Be Morning. The title of the full-length album in itself is symbolic, evoking images of both painful demise and the hope of rebirth. The songs on this EP are similar, displaying the intricate and inextricable connection between grief and hope, and how these emotions relate to love. Klüft's lyrics are no doubt also affected by the fact that English is his second language, which results in the unexpected blessing of phrasing things in a direct yet masked manner. "I can hide behind the English words," Klüft confesses, "in a way that I can't hide behind Swedish words."

The sound of the Perishers is understated and soft, nearly minimal. Likewise, the instrumental lineup is also restrained, consisting of the basics: guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. Instead of opting for a wide variety of instruments, the band chooses to focus on the raw musical elements, most notably melody. Title track "Sway" begins with keyboardist Martin Gustafson playing a chiming piano melody that repeats itself until Klüft sings, "I talk to you just like a friend / I hope that's what you've come to be / It feels as though we've made amends...". His voice is a blend of rasps and whispers, rarely rising or straining, which suits the overall lullaby feel of the song. Keeping the light, airy song from drifting away are bassist Pehr Åström and drummer Thomas Hedlund, who are wise enough to know that restraint is often the best way to show off one's musical skill.

Each of the songs on Sway follows a similar pattern: repeating instrumental melody, whispered singing, and hushed instrumentation. Rather than sounding repetitive or boring, though, this pattern provides the songs a hypnotic quality. "My Heart" blends the soft, jaunty aesthetic of '70s rock radio with the swirling guitar lines of '80 new wave. Once again, the lyrics are direct, yet somehow vague: "If you feel like I feel / And if you know what I know / Don't think you'd ever play me / I know you'd never play me". While the narrator's words appear self-assured, the tone in Klüft's voice gives the song an ominous feel, as if the narrator is more likely trying to convince himself of a lie. "When I Wake Up Tomorrow" captures the hollow yet comforting feeling of resignation that comes from accepting defeat. While a piano limps forward and drums barely keep pace, Klüft sings, "If everything's the same when I wake up tomorrow / I'm giving up". Later, in a deadpan croon, he muses "December came today, and I'm just as bored as ever". The narrator's apathetic reaction to his own misery truly captures and conveys the feeling of bottoming out.

The Perishers might not be doing anything innovative or revolutionary, but their songs are nonetheless captivating. Together, they show what a band is capable of doing by focusing on the basics and avoiding lush production, computer gadgetry, and pointless spectacle. Sway probably won't generate much buzz, simply because it is a collection of focused, muted tunes. However, should you buy this EP, you will become very familiar with the songs; if you don't revisit them, they will certainly revisit you.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.