LÖV – Nostalgia
What makes a good album? There are a lot of different metrics you could look at: its commercial success, how impressive the music is from a technical standpoint, its impact and influence etc. When it comes down to it however, if we break it down to the most simple key factors, it’s about the strength of the individual songs alongside how well they work together.
Norwegian pop trio LÖV have got that first part down with their debut. Nostalgia is a straight-up no nonsense pop album in that it delivers infectious hooks and bright melodies at every turn. Whether it is with the choral elements and stunning harmonies in the title track and ‘I O U’, the slow building splendour of ‘I Got You’, the synth driven chorus of ‘Strangers or Lovers’, or the upbeat anthemic atmosphere of ‘Hero’, Nostalgia keeps finding new ways to pull you in. Clearly LÖV aren’t a band to stick to a formula, instead coming at the very idea of pop from every conceivable angle. Not all of them work, the last few tracks tend to lean a bit too heavily on electronics, but this record hits far more often than it misses.
There are plenty of tracks here that put a smile on your face, make you want to get up and dance, and will end up playing on repeat in your head all day long. As a collection of songs it’s pretty damn irresistible for the most part, the vocals and the hooks are probably the best you’ll find on any pop record you’re likely to come across this year. It’s perhaps not an album you’ll fall for and have a deep connection with, but it is eminently likeable. Nostalgia isn’t the best friend that knows you better than you know yourself, instead it’s the acquaintance that’s all smiles, never has a bad word to say about anyone, and radiates enough positivity to light up the room.
The trouble however is that great songs don’t necessarily make a great album. They help, certainly, but there’s more to it than that. You can’t build a strong structure, even with perfect building blocks, without the mortar to hold them firm. It’s hard to put your finger on, but Nostalgia has something missing, some thread that ties it all together. It feels more like a collection of odds and ends rather than a group of songs that quite clearly belong with one another. The album as a whole doesn’t flow all that well and lacks a unifying sense of identity. It’s so frustrating to have the pieces all here but just not quite meshing together and working to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
Ultimately if you’re looking for a record to sit with from start to finish then you may well find Nostalgia to be lacking, but if you’re more concerned about simply finding great songs then you’ve hit the jackpot here.