LearningToDive – ‘Norwegian Pop’ Album Review
Are we left to dance while the old world falls apart? Or are we celebrating the infancy of a new, futuristic world being born around us?
New Zealand’s LearningToDive makes really stark 80’s style industrial electro-soul music with a modern, internet-y bent. His new record ‘Norwegian Pop’ left me feeling intrigued, uplifted, and yet a little despondent about the current state of the world and culture. Are we left to dance while the old world falls apart? Or are we celebrating the infancy of a new, futuristic world being born around us? LearningToDive’s music certainly calls that to question, I’ll explore my favorite tracks and moments from the album below:
After a cinematic and thematic, spacious intro, ‘Rainbow Fall’ is the first hooky groove encountered on the album, the electro-wave mainstream meets underground beat (Phil Collins or Depeche Mode meets Ministry’s ‘Twitch’ album style glitches and blips) propels a track that is actually quite optimistic, lyrically and harmonically. For an album with darker moments ahead, this track is a nice pre-emptive breathe of fresh air. ‘Tainted’ is probably my favorite track on the record; lively rhythms fit nicely with the trip-hop style bass and key lines, as Bravo’s orderly, stiff vocals set the lyric themes of what’s to come (“will our worlds sink to inky black” always stands out to me). ‘Falling Leaves’ takes a more layered and chill approach to the bouncy grooves we’ve been graced with thus far, this track has an especially great bassline (I have to say, overall this record nails the grooves; not so stiff that they’re soulless but not too loose that they aren’t purposefully programmed, it’s a beautiful balance).
The second half of the record is something to get a little more lost in, more atmospheric, broad, and personal. The jazzier moments on ‘I’ll Smile’ really stuck out to me as genuine, not forced to add color, just enough of something new to give the track it’s smoky character. Bravo’s vocals and the way they ping pong on ‘High and Dry’ were another great moment, again something to meander with compared to the hookier first half of the record, but compelling and calm, they lend to a really well rounded listening experience.
‘Norwegian Pop’ is a concise listen, bookended with atmosphere and soul, this is a beautiful debut that shows a lot of promise and artistic options for LearningToDive to sink into going forward.