Bands like Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers have captivated the world the past few years, with an organic sound and down to earth lyrics. In the same vein, Sweden-based Slim Loris, with a powerful vocal presence and deep musicianship have turned the Americana/Pop genre on its head. Incorporating more instruments and deeper emotions in their new album “Future Echoes and Past Replays,” they are a band that has the market cornered in terms of ingenuity and creativity.
If there were a joke that started with “What do you get when you throw Mumford and Sons, Billy Joel and The Fray in a Blender,” the finish would be “Slim Loris.” Fortunately for your ears, it wouldn’t be a joke. These guys are for real.
A sturdy collection of deep ballads and rockin’ tracks, “Future Echoes and Past Replays” tackles life, love and loss. Although the sound and message is similar to Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers, there are plenty of differences. Using electric instruments more often and mixing in banjo, flute, organ and piano, Slim Loris is essentially an all you can eat for your ears. The result is a deep sound that matches up with the depth of the lyrics perfectly.
Mattias Cederstam’s voice does an ample job of compelling, but even in the grittier and fun songs, he’s able to capture the mood. In “Awakening” you sincerely feel his pain. The lengthy piano solo to start the track gives it a Marc Cohen/Bruce Hornsby type of feel, but the heart on the sleeve approach gives it something more. In “Clean as a Whistle,” you get a much different vocal approach as Cederstram is mellow, but just as charismatic.
Although many of the tracks have emotional beginnings, some are witty and even more laid back. Make no mistake, this band is serious about their craft, but they are seriously solid. Never pedantic, Slim Loris is simply one of the best bands to come out of Sweden in years. This has a lot to do with Cederstam’s vocals.
Robert Barrefelt and Leon Lindström’s guitar work has just as much to do with the success of many of the tracks. “Domestic” could have been a simple vocal duet, but is fueled by an excellent and devilish guitar riff that captures the urgency of the lyrics. “Visions of Tomorrow” is a step away from the band’s signature sound, as the electric guitar riff in the beginning feels like something out of an Eagles song from the mid-70s.
But like any good band, you can’t forget about the drums. Jonas Ellenberg is more than solid here, but he does have a few songs he makes his own. The quick beat in “Fear of Flying” is fun, but the drum work (with an honorable mention to the cool organ progressions) make the track special. The country twang on “Nora” is also better developed thanks to Ellenberg’s percussion work.
Through a slew of instruments and compassionate and real lyrics, Slim Loris proves that there is nothing thin about their sound. Sometimes melancholic, sometimes sincere, but always engaging and emphatic, Slim Loris begs your ears to open up and listen closely.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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