by Richard Hart
The Northern reaches of Europe have recently seen some impressive new acts emerge. Icelandic ambient act “Sigur Ros” have become every advertiser’s favourite band, despite their lack of lyrics. There was also Norwegian act Royksopp whose pop hits have helped them develop a wide following.
Danish trio “Giana Factory” release their new album “Save the Youth” to a wider audience this year. Three young Danish women comprise the band: Loui Foo (vocals and drum pads) Lisbet Fritze (guitar) and Sofie Johanne (synth, bass) have crafted a dark, moody and sensual album that should be a must have for lovers of female vocalists and electronica.
Evoking a smokey, late nineties feel, “Save the Youth” is a beautifully composed album with dark, rich themes and a strong beat. Whilst you couldn’t readily describe it as dance music, it’s clearly electronica and at times harks to bands like “Air”, “Boards of Canada” and “Joe Beats”.
Lyrically the album is quite raw in places, dealing with dark themes like broken relationships, destructive love and drugs. At times the lyrics are woven tightly and then suddenly descend into near incoherence. This is clearest in the moody “Dirty Snow”.
The opening track “Mexican” is a gloomy, slow burning track that reminded me of the “Twin Peaks” soundtrack with a low humming background woven around a haunting lyrical track. It’s a very moody and downbeat way for the album to begin. Twinges of Spanish guitar wave through the dark landscape but the lyrics are dripping in darkness.
Things get a bit more upbeat and up-tempo with the second track “Rainbow Girl”. Much more poppy and a little less gloomy, “Rainbow Girl” bounces along with the same humming background as the last track but a faster beat. The lyrics are much more mainstream in this song, one could almost call it mainstream.
The lyrically complex “Pixelated Truth” floats in next, weaving together downbeat lyrics and an upbeat set mixture of beats. Ambient backgrounds and a gentle drum beat thread together to create a track that wouldn’t be out of place at a moody club scene.
The complicated and divisive “Dirty Snow” is a hard piece of write about. The lyrics are dark, haunted and confusing whilst the actual music is a glitteringly dark piece that is full of menace. This track reminded me a little bit of Massive Attack and “Risingson”
Then the album takes a melodic upturn with the gentle and elegant song “Mountain”. Evoking the excellent “School of Seven Bells” and sounding just the smallest bit like “Cocteau Twins”, Mountain floats along like a gentle clear stream. It’s still got the same tense weaving background but this is a much needed upturn in this dark album.
Poppy and synthed out, next up is “Joy and Deception”. A gloriously weaving song that would be well placed chilling out post-club or on a Sunday morning, its lyrics are beautifully and haunting. The sound is very ambient here, a shimmering background which is thrown into relief by an almost cheery eighties style synth beat.
It only seems fair that an album as downbeat as this would feature a song called “Darkness”. Featuring the shimmering background sounds of the album and more zany eighties style synth, “Darkness” picking up speed and building up a menacing tension, before paying off in a burst of sound at the end. There’s no storm with this thunder but the song does burn quite nicely.
The downbeat “Slyphid Dies” arrives next. The lyrics are delivered with a bit more of an upbeat tone and the song seems suffused with a sort of melancholy. It’s pace just keeps picking up but once again it never quite reaches a huge crescendo.
The fast beats of “Dive” arrive next with a song that, at a loud enough volume, would do well at a club. Sounding like a fusion of Beth Orton and nineties synth, “Dive” is a haunting and rather beautiful piece of music that wouldn’t have been out of place produced by William Orbit.
The beautiful and glowing “Change of Heart” arrives next. The best track on the album features a shimmering background, tense beats in the foreground and lush, growling lyrics where Loui reminds you ‘Baby, this love affair has no rules.’
Change of Heart is a beautiful song that closes out the album on a thoughtful tone, nicely encapsulating the feel of the whole album. Giana Factory don’t deliver lightning, more a glowing storm of light. There is thunder, a distant rumble but this is no flash in the pan.
The album has a worldwide release in the Spring and there is also a deluxe version available, featuring a bonus disc with extra songs, unreleased demos and remixes. This is well worth a listen and the remix of “Change of Heart” is very good.
As a trio these girls have produced a great album and I’d recommend anyone who likes ambient music, female vocalists or gentle dance music to check it out. Equally fans of acts like “Sigur Ros”, “Massive Attack” or “Portishead” would probably like this.
Giana Factory have truly bottled the lightning here.