For the past year, Thea Glenton Raknes and her band mates Kamilla Waal, Jørgen Apeness, and Filip Roshauw – a.k.a. Thea & The Wild – have teased fans and the music community with new singles. Taken individually, the four songs released since last January were likes the storylines of ’80s coming-to-age movies. A more profound and deeper message, however, is revealed when the songs are compiled together on Thea & The Wild’s excellent sophomore album, Ikaros.
To understand the underlying meaning of the record, it’s important to review the Greek mythological story about the character after which the album is named. In short, Ikaros is a moral tale about ambition and recklessness. The title character is given wings by his father, Daedalus, to escape the island of Crete. Despite his father’s warning to not approach the sun, Ikaros flew too high, and the sun’s heat melted the wax that kept his wings attached to his ankles. Ikaros fell into the sea, where he drowned. While Thea & The Wild don’t approach such bleak levels, Raknes does turn into a modern-day Aesop with her eye-opening songwriting about the peaks and valleys of love, lust, desire, power, and greed.
The record blazes with ’70s- and ’80s-inspired synth- and indie-pop, ranging from hip-shaking numbers to elegant and dazzling ballads. It begins with “Dark Horse”, which is an immensely catchy track that will have you “run fast forward” and away from those who have underestimated you or played with your heart. But when the song comes to a close, Raknes leaves you with a feeling of strength and confidence. The upbeat and shimmering closer, “Medicine”, similarly, possesses an inspiring message about overcoming all obstacles. The pop orchestra “When A Kiss Becomes A Habit”, meanwhile, is an exhilarating number that echoes Bonnie Tyler. As the synth-pop melody rises, Raknes’ genuine words reflect on a relationship’s deterioration and one’s refusal to give up.
Thea & The Wild reach new heights when they turn their attention to Ikaros and anyone who can related to him. The title track is a tremendous piece of art, as the band makes us feel like the Greek character and understand his desire to embrace his new liberation. Dark, alt-pop perfection is delivered on “Paved The Way”, which has the gritty broodiness of Fever Ray. The titillating rhythms and beats create the feeling that one is slowly spiraling from the sky and into an unknown rabbit hole. Raknes’ vocals, meanwhile, are enrapturing, and her songwriting further accentuates the mythological atmosphere.
“You paved the way for me, and I got bold
And I just flew higher.
Show the way so I could see what I could do,
You set my soul on fire.”
The stunning and dramatic “Why Did You Go”, meanwhile, is the aftermath. Rakness tenderly weeps for the loss of someone dear. Or in the context of the album, it is Daedalus’ lament to his lost son. On “The Wars”, Thea & The Wild share a thunderous cinematic tune. It is one part a continuation of the Greek-inspired storyline, and it’s another part a politically-charged number about breaking down walls and barriers that entrap us.
“City Of Gold”, though, encapsulates the beauty and power of the entire LP and is its highlight. The stuttering synths, the cool keys, the percolating electric drums, and the tickling bass create a breathtaking soundscape that belongs on the soundtrack of an ’80s movie. Raknes’ vocals are lush and enrapturing, where you want to bottle it up and save it for a rainy day. Her songwriting is stellar, explaining why we run and chase our dream. Why we attempt to reach the sun and the stars in search for something that no currency or piece of gold can buy. Why we are all like Ikaros, who relishes that one moment to truly be free. A modern-day Aesop indeed.
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