3 out of 5
Produced by: Efterklang
On the Allmusic page for this album – Efterklang’s fifth, reconvened as a new version of the group after hiatus through a few different arrangements and name changes – a helpful reviewer (Patrick Pinto) makes mention of Adult Oriented Rock, or AOR, when describing Altid Sammen. I do wish that term had floated by my ears before giving the disc a listen, as it probably would’ve made me realize ahead of time that: it’s not for me.
There are moments across Altid Sammen’s nine tracks, particularly towards the first half, where Efterklang’s drifting pace and subdued crescendos of bass and keys and polite instrumentation feel like they’re achieving something. Casper Clausen’s high pitched croon is a little too peaceful, but there are notes of longing in there that sync well with interesting diversions in songs’ progressions, which are slowed down, de-crunched versions of post-rock a la Mogwai – same song lengths, perhaps, but played at a snail’s pace – given that AOR sheen thanks to a preference for prettier, glossier sounds. Opener Vi er Uendelig does this dance exceedingly well, slinking onto the scene in a most unaffecting fashion before the bass wiggles in and, bit by bit, the song becomes rather lush. But by my take, often it’s not lush enough – even though we’re taking our time to get to where songs are going, I don’t feel like you really hear the full contribution of the lengthy list of contributors and instruments credited; the album still comes across as rather minimal. And I found that once my ears had adapted to that “surprise” of a sudden descending note, the effect too easily fades into the background; even some tracks that make a turn towards more electronic sounds or a comparably quicker pace sluice together.
An undoubtedly purposeful composition – I never felt like I was listening to half-formed tracks – Efterklang comes across as more of a starting point to explore groups that take the lush, slocore thing and blow it up in slightly more unique ways. Then again, part of the durability of AOR is the way it plays it rather safe and warm, and I can see the appeal of Altid Sammen in that regard. (While I’m falling asleep to it.)