reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Casper Clausen is the frontman of celebrated Danish band Efterklang, renowned for their versatility in writing moving leftfield pop music with orchestral craft. Clausen shows a good deal of those qualities in his first solo album, released on his birthday on 9th January.
What’s the music like?
Refreshingly varied and inventive. Clausen appears to have started Better Way with a clean sheet of paper, for its musical twists and turns are many – but are carefully structured to make an excellent album that only improves with repeated listening.
The first and last tracks are the most substantial. Used To Think sets expectations with a broad sonic canvas, its extended instrumental intro doffing a cap to Krautrock but providing an airy backing to Clausen’s easy vocal once it arrives. Ocean Wave is rather different, a reflective postlude building to an impressive climax.
In between there are intimate asides, intriguing rhythms and subtly expanded musical ambition. The rhythms are at their most imaginative on Feel It Coming, using a set of skewed and broken beats, and 8 Bit Human, which carries a Kraftwerk-style undercarriage.
Falling Apart Like You is the album’s emotional centre, its plaintive vocal taking place over a shifting backdrop. Little Words is its natural counterpart, a mottled guitar giving Clausen the chance to project his lyrics, ‘Call out to the future, do you wanna heal the world?’
Does it all work?
Better Way takes a while to reveal its secrets, but is something of a grower. By the third listen you will realise how memorable Clausen’s hooks are, and how profound his vocals – and appreciation will also have grown for his instrumental palette.
Is it recommended?
It is. Fans of Efterklang – and there are many – will need no persuasion. If you are a fan of Scandinavian pop music then this will also be for you, as it will be if you are looking for fresh faced musical inspiration at the start of the year.