...an entrancing album of spectral lullabies
'To Where The Wild Things Are'

Sweden's Death And Vanilla have all the makings of a great cult band.

They prioritise vinyl (coloured, natch) over downloads. Their reference points are totemic acts like The United States Of America, 50 Foot Hose and – most obviously – Broadcast. 'Necessary Distortions', the first track on this album, pulses along a krautrock groove with the repeating mantra of "oscillations, oscillations" - surely a reference to Silver Apples.

It could all feel terribly studied if it wasn't for one very important detail: they make really great records. While this is the duo's second album (actually their third, if you count the release of last year's improvised Vampyr soundtrack), for most it will be their first. That's no bad thing. Whereas their debut occasionally slipped into overt pastichery, this feels more cohesive and defined. 

The first side finds the band at their most welcoming. Marleen Nilsson's vocals bob gently along in an ocean of reverb on 'Arcana' and 'California Owls', while the melodies evoke everything from Czech cinema soundtracks to The Velvet Underground channelled through their own uniquely distorted lens.It's pretty and poppy, with only 'The Optic Nerve' meandering slightly.

The second half is less outgoing. 'Hidden Reverse' begins the run of darker, quieter songs that close off the album. It's here that the '...Wild Things' name finally starts to make sense. There's an eeriness and an almost imperceptible pagan quality here that undercuts the dream pop sweetness.

Death And Vanilla may sound like cuties, but they've got teeth. The band's fondness for over-long outros means that it occasionally drifts, where a tighter edit would have made it soar. But for the most part this is an entrancing album of spectral lullabies.


Words: Will Salmon

Buy Clash Magazine
Get Clash on your mobile, for free: iPhone / Android


Follow Clash: