For nearly a decade, Makthaverskan have exhilarated Swedish music fans with their fast and furious mix of post-punk and dark pop. Their first two albums, I and II, were underground hits with the latter putting the Gothenburg-based band on the global indie map. Their performance at SXSW in 2015 further catapulted them into the psyche of most taste makers and made them a name to watch. Despite their success, Makthaverskan took some time off to regroup and re-energize. Four years have passed since their breakthrough release (II), but album number three has finally arrived. Not surprisingly, they have named their latest record III, which builds upon the hyper-activity of the first two LPs with a couple of twists.
Their trademark exhilaration is first unraveled on the buzzsaw heartbreaker, “Leda”. The jangly guitar riffs and the humming rhythms offer some brightness to complement front woman Maja Milner’s infectious wail and her goodbye to someone dear. A feeling of hope and renewal fills the air during “In My Dreams”. The music is jubilant while Milner’s infectious vocals wish for a better life away from today’s chaos. A world where nature and humanity can coexist. Meanwhile on “Front”, Makthaverskan deliver a catchy, Alvvays-like love ballad, but with a bit more edge.
On “Eden”, Makthaverskan redefine paradise. While the biblical landmark creates visions of a peaceful, bucolic affair, the band offers the complete opposite. A militaristic percussion and Joy Division-esque bass line open the song, giving it a brooding starkness. Suddenly, however, it transforms into a soul-stirring anthem. Soaring melodies and a mix of post-punk and dream-pop are paired with philosophical lyrics about renewal and one may think they have been transformed to a mythical place.
“We build it all just to watch it fall
We build barricades, there’s so much hate
Humanity equals misery
There’s nothing here to see
Is this what we want or is it all we know?
And I don’t have trust in society
When it won’t trust me.”
A similar exhilarating lushness permeates on “Siren”. With its ’80s-infused approach, the song is a dazzling display of how dark-pop can be enchanting yet breathtaking. It is also one of the album’s major highlights. Further building on the Eighties era, Makthaverskan unleash a stunner in “To Say It As It Is”. This brooding but spellbinding ballad is reminiscent of Blondie and Siouxsie Sioux and The Banshees are their most vulnerable. Milner, too, demonstrates the emotional and captivating power of Debbie Harry and Madame Sioux.
Where the band truly stand out is when they unleash their dark and menacing side. On “Witness”, they share a Savages-like foreboding epic. The intensity reaches a feverish pitch, and the yearning and urgency in Milner’s voice are intoxicating. Her lyrics, too, are frightening for their realism about how we’ve become shadows ourselves within this new world order. The continuation of the story is “Comfort”, which is another marvelous post-punk number. Starker and more harrowing in its approach, Makthaverskan create a soundscape that feels like a midnight run through unchartered territory. It, therefore, provides the perfect atmosphere to this story of trying to regain control of oneself.
But with an album as frenetic, energizing, and exhilarating as III, do we want to stay in control? In a world full of turmoil, III provides the ultimate release. It also provides the messages we need to hear to realize our fragility, to hold on to the little bit of hope that still exists, and to remember what we’ve done. As Makthaverskan have proven for nearly ten years, we can always improve upon the past and create some more dazzling and remarkable in the future.
The band is comprised of Maja Milner, Irma Krook, Andreas “Palle” Wettmark, and Hugo Randulv.
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