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Suburban Savages: Demagogue Days

Much seems to have changed for Suburban Savages between their 2017 album Kore Wa! and their latest excursion, Demagogue Days. Thankfully their beautifully themed album covers remain but with a more band ethic towards songwriting and, in a slightly contradicting fashion, more focused end result, in some ways this feels like a fresh start. Hailing from Norway, this outfit first appeared in 2007 with a then eponymous tr-Ond And The Suburban Savages debut and followed that up a decade later with the aforementioned Kore Wa!. The latter of those two was certainly an eclectic and at times almost scattergun outing, however with a central theme - but not a concept - those more disparate elements from before have converged into a rewarding journey as a whole. More upbeat than many of their region-mates, Suburban Savages still sound intrinsically Scandinavian, with mellow synths, keys and organs often leading the way through what is still a varied offering. In terms of theme, this album is undoubtedly influenced by the here and now (2020/21) with remote communication from people who in reality were very near to each other geographically and yet completely isolated at its core. Through the lyrics we also gain an insight into the creation of song-words and while that can, at times, feel a little twee, slotted into the overarching theme, it all makes perfect sense.

The four musicians piecing all of this together are Trond Gjellum on vocals, drums, percussion, programming, synths, drum-machines and samples, Anders Kristian Krabberød on bass, chapman stick, nylon string guitar, synths and e-bow guitar, Mari Lesteberg providing vocals, keyboards and synths and Thomas Meidell on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, electric sitar, bass VI, synths, theremin, omnichord, field-recordings and samples. Possibly those wide responsibility credits can be attributed to remote working where each added their own ideas as the songs flourished but it also gives an indication of the complex yet melodic prog this band specialise in. One moment we’re in the psych chant and call of “Iconoclast”, the next “Aroused And Confused” uses much more intentionally naive keyboard sounds to lay the foundation of a track that could have been almost too bright for its own good but instead evolves into a multi-faceted voyage that benefits from atmospheric twists and turns. With “Taciturnity” using a similar approach but in a much more pointed way, elements of Yes are introduced to embellish an idiosyncratic feel and while you could hardly call much on this album ‘unique’, it certainly has a Suburban Savages-ness about it, especially with Aleks Morozova andra often adding excellent backing vocals that truly change the outlook. Add in the mere 90 seconds of “Let’s Talk” to the seven minutes plus of “The Silence Afterwards” (which is anything but) and what truly comes through here is a confidence from this band that they no longer need to throw everything at you to show what they can do. Impressively that very fact is what makes Demagogue Days the intricate experience it becomes.


Track Listing
1. Aroused and Confused
2. Taciturnity
3. Demagogue Days
4. Krystle Fox
5. Iconoclast
6. Let's Talk
7. Under Mirrored Skies
8. The Silence Afterwards

Added: November 8th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Suburban Savages @ bandcamp
Hits: 1766
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Suburban Savages: Demagogue Days
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-11-09 03:06:36
My Score:

Here we go again, another trip to Oslo, Norway. This time it’s the quirky progressive rock band Suburban Savages. They formed in 2007 by Trond Gjellum (Panzerpappa) as an outlet for songs that didn’t quite fit with his main gig and have three albums to date, including their latest effort titled Demagogue Days. Through the years there have been a few member changes, but the core of the band has remained unchanged:


Trond Gjellum (vocals, drums, percussion, programming, synths, drum machines, samples)
Thomas Meidell (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, bass VI, synths, theremin, omnichord, field recordings, samples)
Rounding out the band:
Anders K. Krabberod (Panzerpappa - bass, Chapman-stick, nylon string guitar, synths, e-bow guitar, backing vocals)
Aleksandra Morozova (backing vocals on tracks 1, 3, 5, 6)
Mari Lesteberg (vocals, keyboards, synths)

The album was conceived over the pandemic, so the band had to work via remotely which fits the theme of remoteness that pervades Demagogue Days. The music often belies the dark theme as the band draws as much from the pop universe as it does from prog and intertwines both in an extremely creative way. The complex arrangements and hummable melodies are enhanced with excellent lead vocals having a bit of Gentle Giant-like inventiveness. The almost sunny, pop-like melody in the lead-off track “Aroused and Confused” is built around complex instrumental interplay, especially synth and guitar. The tasty lead vocals add another hook for the listener. “Taciturnity” begins with a tribal drum pattern followed by winding guitar and synths, each taking turns at playing the main melody. The instrumental prowess and fine song craftsmanship are on full display and when you add the multipart vocal arrangement you have a real stunner. With the title track, the infectious pop melody, the wonderfully quirky arrangement, and fine theremin play are album highlights. This is just a sampling of what you will uncover with Demagogue Days.

Demagogue Days will appeal to pop fans as much as progressive rock fans, a delightful concoction of melodic pop prog that I whole heartedly recommend.

An Apollon Records release.


» Reader Comments:

Suburban Savages: Demagogue Days
Posted by on 2022-06-30 13:55:28
My Score:

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