Recently added to Svart Records diverse roster is SUAD, a Finnish singer-songwriter and Waves marks her debut album. It is the long-awaited follow-up to 2017s The Call EP as well as a string of stand-alone singles. I’m always looking for something different to review and SUAD immediately caught my interest due the music being labelled ‘dark pop’, which conjured up images of Portishead, Bjork and Bat for Lashes.
Accompanying SUAD on this release are Vilunki 3000, Tuomo Puranen, Tommi Toijonen, Tapio Viitasaari and Henri Lindström. The cover art is a little deceptive and were you to encounter it in HMV you may overlook it, mistaking it for yet another overproduced mainstream pop album, I ascribe this mainly to the typeface.
Opening track Faces starts with a steady drumbeat and SUAD‘s smooth as silk vocals, it’s a driving and upbeat number with hints of indie dynamics that will burrow itself into your consciousness. Sleep Like Nights takes a more sombre tone and has some luscious blues guitar combined with Lana Del Rey styled baroque pop, it’s like wrapping a warm comfy blanket around yourself. Winter is the longest track on the album and has a subtle country twang to the vocals, as well as some lovely piano playing that makes one nostalgic for Tori Amos and Stevie Nicks.
Streets features shimmering electronica and a repetitive piano refrain that’s akin to a less eccentric Björk. This is possibly one of the more experimental tracks on Waves and due to this and its icy nature, one of the best. Much like The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, The Burn has a dignified sparseness as well as a serene quality. As I was listening I felt as if I was on an ethereal journey and I was reluctant to leave once the track finished.
The way the album effortlessly shifts from sombre and heartbreaking, to joyous and uplifting is nothing short of breathtaking…
Title track Waves is a sprightly number which just about makes it past the three minute mark and it’s quite stripped down. It features the predominant sound of drum brushes and piano, while SUAD‘s strong vocals emanate a Carly Simon type of emotional honesty. After some comparatively downbeat numbers, an energy is injected back into the proceedings with The Door, which again is a piano and drum led number. Some may shudder at the prospect of such a combo as memories of Keane may come to the fore, however I can reassure you that the difference is night and day with as it’s infinitely more uplifting, optimistic and dare I say cooler.
I Don’t Know You feels like a paean to a broken heart, which considering my recent experiences render it both a cathartic and painful listen. It feels like the type of track that has been written after a heavy period of self-reflection of what was and what could have been. The track is excellent but for personal reasons is somewhat difficult for me to listen to. Finally White Lies, which was released as a single last year, harks back to opening track Faces with its sense of buoyancy. It makes for a stunning contrast to the preceding track, throwing off the shackles of resigned reflection, instead embracing a new found freedom. A nice and hopeful way to conclude the album.
Atwood Magazine described Waves as ‘An uplifting, cathartic enchantment’ and I have to say I agree. The way the album effortlessly shifts from sombre and heartbreaking, to joyous and uplifting is nothing short of breathtaking. The album embraces classy and classic pop songwriting before the likes of the odious Simon Cowell auto-tuned and commoditised the genre into an embarrassing oblivion.
Scribed by: Reza Mills