Turning the Asian dancefloor into indie pop gems
Lydmor’s music popped onto my radar when her first single for this album showcased her chilled out electronica vibes mixed with late nite neon Asian vibes. With the mix of Lydmor’s Danish electronica roots embedded in alongside her time spent in China, it’s a really fascinating mixture of East and West that marks out the entire album as a wonderful indie pop album.
The album is set out like a retelling of an adventure with occasional spoken conversational segments and each song name in the MP3 credit is also numbered in Chinese symbols. “To The Mansion” kicks things off with a short conversation before the synths and beats kick in and the track feels like it’s an elevator taking you down to what the rest of the album is going to provide. The beats are slow and fluid, the synths are low key and heavy on the dubs and Lydmor’s vocals are hushed and murmured. “Money Towers” is like those elevator doors opening. Big hooks and riffs in the synths are celebrated and wide panning vocals are showcased – all gently nodding towards the Asian influence but in an authentic way – not in a dodgy take on world music from someone who’s not fully immersed in it. It’s a late club anthem in waiting and deserves a lot of mainstream love. “Killing Time” is another single. This is more chilled out and slowed down but its thick drums, with minor glitches, continue to convey that post night out clubbing vibe the entire album is bathed in. It’s a perfect tightrope walk between luscious comedown and gently fumbling on the dancefloor. The third single “Claudia” is the sole time the album goes full-on anger and confrontational. The suggestive lyrics are a fantastic interplay between daring someone to buy the lady of their dreams but unleashing the wrath of a woman scorned too. The sharp and heavy synth work here is bang on point and the whole vibe is electro-pop perfection.
The album post “Claudia” doesn’t hit that level of angst or rage outwardly again. “DIM” is a deceptively un-minimalistic piece full of ambience and sounds that create a pacey but light and airy track. Think what would happen if Mandalay and Lamb had a baby. It’s super catchy – as most of the tracks are on the album and after the increasing tension of the previous four tracks, this dusk and musk piece is welcome. “Suidan Lu” is a short conversation piece with an ambient guitar which bridges us to the second half of the story. After the crushing comes the low and then the pick back up and that starts with “Soft Islands”. The track is the big long centrepiece of the album and starts off slow and measured before building itself up from a brooding ballad to a crowd clapping dance anthem. Its transition could have had one absolutely euphoric hurrah but the fact the track literally crosses all the spectrums – it’s similar in feeling to Utada’s “Kremlin Dusk” which is an all time favourite song and this gives me the same elation and catharsis.
“Nostalgia” is a great name for a track that has an off time skipping beat and a lilting chord structure. Its thick synths are layered with tons of vocal patterns that all coo and aaah to you – some distorted, some not and the vibe of the whole track hits that ‘hmm I’m not quite sure of myself’ feeling. I think it’s done to how metronomic the beats and skips are. “UOME” (read it aloud) wears its Denmark roots on its sleeve. This is what good Eurovision should sound like because it has a great riff, catchy hook in the chorus and an adult feel to the electronica – all whilst feeling like you could hear it on the charts too. It crosses that boundary between a late 80’s pop song with plenty of percussive production going on everywhere but with today’s modern technology – which is why it feels like a decent Eurovision track if that contest went full adult! The album moves towards a more ambient slow dance with the final two tracks. “Trembling” and in particular “Shanghai Road” both have a broken down, underlying tiredness to them that make them feel a little dark – yet both tracks feel absolutely beautiful at the same. They are anti-anthems but I’d still be singing along with them into the dark hours of morning waving my phone light in respect.
As a modern indie pop album, Lydmor has smashed it. There are so many great tracks here that Lydmor is probably one of the easiest underground artist recommendations I’ve made on this website all year because of how mainstream things on first listen. Dive beneath the initial listen through and you’ll find layers of production and sound, lyrics that are both clumsily unique and wildly suggestive and an album to party and collapse to. Superb.