Efterklang: Buoyantly Atmospheric Pop

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It can be hard for a symphonic rock band to stand out among the Arcade Fires, Grizzly Bears and Beiruts of the world, but Efterklang has maintained some impressive momentum. The Danish quartet, often joined by six other members for live shows, naturally attracts comparisons to its fellow Scandinavians in Sigur Ros. But while the latter's hypnotic, glacial songs invoke Iceland's coldest peaks, Efterklang crafts gorgeous panoramas bathed in warm, orchestral sounds.

Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Modern Drift"
  • Artist: Efterklang
  • CD: Magic Chairs
  • Genre: Pop
Efterklang i

Neither ambient nor explicitly forceful, Efterklang's "Modern Drift" puts all of its layers on display. courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist

Neither ambient nor explicitly forceful, Efterklang's "Modern Drift" puts all of its layers on display.

courtesy of the artist

The band's third full-length album, Magic Chairs, shifts away from mellow atmospheric euphony toward buoyant atmospheric pop. Occasionally jarring and insistent, but tender in unexpected ways, "Modern Drift" feels like three songs in one, laced together by rhythm and lyrics but meandering all over the sonic landscape. Neither ambient nor explicitly forceful, the song puts all of its layers on display, with each note ringing out, from the plunky piano motif (which deepens into a rich melody) to the swelling horns and strings that blend perfectly with the understated vocals.

Since such open-ended melodies could easily lead the song off-track in the studio, Efterklang wisely shuts it down before it succumbs to sentimentality. But the five minutes of Magic Chairs given over to "Modern Drift" aren't nearly enough time for Efterklang's entire live orchestra to explore the song's depths. That'll have to happen on stage.

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