Makthaverskan bring together their contrasting worlds of euphoric Scandigaze and startling darkgaze on their dazzling fourth album, ‘För Allting’.
1991 was a year of incredible change. The Iron Curtain fell with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Apartheid ended in South Africa, and shoegaze reached its peak with My Bloody Valentine’s monumental album, Loveless. Shoegaze’s popularity, however, was short-lived, as grunge and alternative became the dominant sound of the decade. But unlike some genres, shoegaze never went away. While many would cite its revival happened in the late 2010s, its resurrection happened much sooner.
In the mid- to late 2000s, Swedish artists began to apply Scandinavian pop signatures to shoegaze, and Scandi-gaze was born. Among those leading the charge were Makthaverskan, who took the craft beyond the dream-pop of the ’90s. They, however, went further back, applying the Gothic post-punk of 1975 Manchester and adding a stark quality. And in their 13 years, Maja Milner (vocals), Hugo Randulv (guitar), Per Svensson (guitar), Andreas “Palle” Wettmark (drums), and Irma Krook (bass) have become a band full of contrast. They can awe and exhilarate, as they did with their superb third album, III, while making darkness beautiful and enrapturing, as showcased on Makthaverskan II. These two worlds come together on the dazzling För Allting.
The album starts in surprising fashion, which is nothing new for the Gothenburg quintet. A hymnal quality first emerges from “(-)”. Ambient noise peacefully hovers throughout its 92 seconds. This, however, is just a distraction, as the track bleeds into the soaring euphoria that is “This Time”. Blustery shoegaze guitars, urgent percussion, and a Peter Hook-like bass line ignite behind Milner’s siren-like vocal. The rejuvenation bursting from her voice mirrors her lyrics about the need to apologize for past mistakes in order to move into the future.
“Self hate oh self hate
I failed it again
Look out what we became
Now nothing is the same”
The LP takes off from this moment. Nineties dream-pop a la Galaxie 500 filters through the dizzying “Tomorrow”. Despite the title, the track is a look into the mirror and questioning why we repeatedly make the same mistakes. “We don’t see that we are the cruel ones / And we don’t care unless it happens to us”, Milner pleads. The driving “All I’ve Ever Wanted To Say”, which is highlighted by Wettmark’s superb drumming, and the shimmering “These Walls” apply this same theme but looks introspectively. They explore the turmoil and “the silent war” that exists within the human mind.
För Allting does possess its share of enduring movements, which is to be expected from a band that draws its inspiration from the decade that gave the world some of the most memorable soundtrack songs. The dream-like symphony that is “För Allting” is an ode to undying love. Milner emotionally sings, “You asleep in my arms for the last time / In my arms tonight for the last time”. The sounds of 1993 overwhelm the stunning “Closer”. Gorgeous shoegaze guitars interlace with a probling bass line, the light bellows of a sax, delicate synth waves, and percolating drums to create a wonderfully nostalgic atmosphere. Milner’s transcendent voice similarly tells a tale taken from a great coming-of-age film.
“The real meaning is you and me
The truth honey lies in your eyes
In the day time and in the night
I walk with you on my mind
Yes you make me want to try”
Conversely, the quintet can turn the dazzling into an experience of pure desperation. A desert-like suspense rises from “Ten Days”, on which Milner describes how she seeks to play “a game that I cannot win / Still I want more of this precious sin”. “Caress” is Gothgaze at its most exhilarating. As the guitars sparkle in the background while the rhythms throb in the foreground, Milner speaks about an unforgettable tragedy that leaves the protagonist alone. Alone to confront his demons.
Makthaverskan’s show their bleakest colors on “Lova”. Following the brief, trembling opening, the track immediately turns intense. Surging guitars and pummeling rhythms explode, and the song stays at this relentless tempo to the end. Every second feels like a high-speed chase, and the only saving grace is Milner’s gripping vocal. It, however, also is intense, as Milner sings about how she’s a prisoner to a memory. How she has become chained to lust, desire, and something, someone she can never have.
“Sleepless nights, memories lie
You’re somewhere else now
But you used to be mine
You used to be mine
Used to be mine
Cruel nature, cruel time”
In another decade, Makthaverskan would be considered legends. They would be celebrated for their chameleon-like ability to shift between the sublime and the startling and, thus, as one of Sweden’s great bands of the 21st Century. With För Allting, they just might receive global recognition that has been long overdue because the Gothenburg five-piece have delivered another terrific album.
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