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Ten years ago, a little band from Falun, Sweden was established with the intention of recreating American music, specifically punk and folk. Fast forward ten years later, and a lot has changed for Francis. Only two original members remain from the original band, Petra Mases and drummer Petter Nygårdh, who are now joined by guitarist Jerker Krumlinde, bassist Paulina Mellkvist, and keyboardist Oskar Bond. Besides the band’s composition, Francis has completely changed its sound. Gone are the experiments to mix The Ramones with Tom Waits and in their place is an emphasis on atmospheric, indie-pop.
The change helped the band quickly develop a solid following in their home country. In 2011, they self-released their debut full-length, Lekomberg, We Were Kin, and quickly followed that up with 2012’s This Must Be Blood EP. Francis is now setting its sights on the global market with the release of their sophomore album and first international release, Marathon.
When hearing Mases’ sing, it’s not difficult to understand why the original Francis considered heading down the post-punk path. Her delicate voice is comparable to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman Karen O. Some of the tracks even echo of Karen O.’s solo work and YYYs’ more intimate and romantic tracks, particularly those on It’s Blitz (like “Skeletons” and “Little Shadow”). The stunning and soaring “Set Easy“, which is set to a throbbing drum roll complemented by stirring glistening guitars; the majestic and choral “Holy”; and the breathtaking “Turning A Hand” match the power of the NYC artist.
Francis, though, have also created a pop sound that is their own. In some ways, it could be considered power pop, but one that is intimate and lush and filled with gorgeous harmonies and sweet melodies. Some indeed are spectacular love ballads, like the longing expressed in “Howl” and the hope for new beginnings in the enrapturing “Marathon”. But the biggest and boldest ballad is the album’s closer, “Follow Me Home”. A number inspired by the music of the ’70s and ’80s, the song builds slowly from its catchy pop beginnings to a cathartic climax that is ablaze in disco-pop. The quickening of the tempo matches the racing of one’s heart when the connection is finally made.
For music lovers around the world, they’ll finally get to connect with one of Sweden’s hidden gems. Marathon is familiar – from its balladry to the stories told about the loves of our lives and the hope for another day. It’s music made for movies and television shows, music made to capture the moments in our lives. It’s an approach that helped make another Swedish band and a music icon, and this path could very well lead Francis to being the next Roxette.
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