Swedish duo Grapell are a rare breed in today’s music. They are one of the very few bands who can make the sultry sound spectacular. Take music that is blissful and romantic and simultaneously make it breathtaking and mind-altering. The secret to Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygårdh’s sound is that they have not confined themselves to any particular genre. Instead, like the modern-day maestros, the Stockholm-based duo combine several musical styles to create their startling sound. Jazz and trip-hop. Gospel and pop. Adult contemporary and R&B. They are all there and encapsulated in their fabulous sophomore EP, Love Chamber.
The album starts with the intoxicating “Every Time…” Nygårdh masterfully fuses the horns, organ, and synths like a prize-winning conductor overseeing a small symphony. Erstand’s powerful and captivating falsetto, meanwhile, has the same soaring mysticism as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Together the two have written a song that is among the most beautiful songs of the year. It is raw, emotively powerful, and absolutely breathtaking. Lyrically, it is soul crushing, especially as Erstand utters:
Even if it hurts like hell
Even it if burns like fire
Even though it could be my end
I like it… I like it… I like it…
With “Arrow” and “Some Places”, Grapell move towards the groovy and sultry. The saxophone on both tracks create the feel of either a late-night, lonely walk or an unplanned tryst. The two songs ooze with the sensuality and temptation heard on songs by Sade, Babyface, and Prince (within his deep catalogue). A time when romantic songs caused goosebumps on your arm and shivers down your back. Music that made you long to see your loved one and spend one remarkable night.
The last two songs, “Still Your Friend” and “Don’t Turn Into a Memory”, Grapell adopt more traditional pop arrangements. The two songs are the most intimate and delicate on the EP, as the instrumentation is restrained in order to allow Erstrand’s vocals and storytelling to shine. Each track is soothing, like a gentle breeze blowing on your skin and helping to calm your body and soul. Unlike the other songs that aimed to win someone’s heart, these two tracks target the soul. They are songs meant to speak about the days, weeks, and years to come and the memories to be made.
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