Every once in a while, I want to hear something pretty. I grew up listening to a lot of classical music because my father didn’t really understand the whole rock and roll thing. I have inherited his many classical albums, which I put on when I need to cleanse my musical pallet. Because of this, I am a sucker for new music that has clear classical influences, and probably why I enjoyed Amaterasu by David Fridlund so much.
Amaterasu is David’s first solo album after fronting the Swedish piano-pop group David & The Citizens. The Citizens are still together for those of you who might be familiar with their work; they just needed create something apart. Much of Amaterasu was recorded at home, and some of it even in an old slaughterhouse. Perhaps it’s morbid of me, but I find slaughterhouses to be interesting places. Sarah Culler, Fridlund’s long-term partner, has added her considerable vocal talents to some of the songs and the title is even derived from her middle name.
This album brought to mind Ben Folds, which has always had a lukewarm appeal, delighting in one song while the next irritates me to no end. Fridlund, on the other hand, has created an album that you can listen to from start to finish without reaching for the skip button, which is the highest compliment I can think of.
The album begins and ends with the sounds of passing cars, then engages you with “Circles,” which rises and falls with Culler singing honey-sweet over a soft guitar and bass, with the occasional piano note and drum beat added as the song builds into a duet. Suddenly, the drums and bass become more pronounced as Fridlund’s voice elevates and fills with anguish, with Culler picks up the last flow of notes.
Fans of piano-pop and well-written lyrics will find this album to their liking, especially the simplicity of “Satellite,” then sadness strays into “Before it Breaks,” flipping the channel to the jaunty, almost jazz-like “Knives.”
I am hesitant to use the word “show-tune,” but the strong visual quality of “April & May” and “Busride & Carsick” likes to the Broadway escapades. I can see people on stage acting out the lyrics in time with the music, so if in fact Amaterasu is made into a musical, I expect royalties.