Photo: Courtesy of Action PR!

Third Culture Kings Are Happy to Be in “Second Place” (premiere)

Psychedelic pop's Third Culture Kings share "Second Place", a dreamy pop tune that gets a new lease on life. Celebrating the underdog has rarely felt so good.

Different Kinda Angel is the new release from Third Culture Kings, featuring producer Alap Momin (founding member of Dälek) and Copenhagen singer Jan Johansen (of Glorybox and Ring Them Bells). The duo fuse psychedelic pop, doo-wop, contemporary R&B and bass-centric sounds that come from somewhere in the future.

You can hear this on “Second Place”, the latest song from the LP. With trippy, dreamy vocals that recall peak-era Bright Eyes, propulsive, danceable rhythms, and an emotionally-driven lyric that capture the ear as well as the heart, the song never moves in the expected ways. This could have been a reasonably straightforward pop number; instead, it moves into strange territories that include hints of ambient and dub, resulting in something that is far more satisfying than a three-minute love song.

Johansen says, “Some of the songs on our new record were born right there in front of the microphone, in the studio, on the spot. Some, I recorded on my iPhone sitting on my bed in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Then I would take it to Alap in the studio in Harlem, where we treated the iPhone recording and did some overdubs. Some of the songs were beats and treats that Alap had cooked up, and I would improvise and jam over.”

He adds, “However, ‘Second Best’ is a song I wrote almost 20 years ago, sitting up at 4:00 am in a tiny stone-cold apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the middle of January. The apartment did not have central heating but just one gas burner in the living room. Some sleepless nights caused by the cold would have me cozy up with an acoustic guitar by the flame of the heater. Although back then, this song had come to me in minutes, it would take almost 20 years to be recorded, as it had never sat well with the noisy rock bands I was playing with at the time. To have thought back then that this Simon and Garfunkel-type tune would be treated to Alap Momin of (at the time) Dälek´s wizardry was impossible.