Sunday, 28 April 2013

REVIEW: Efterklang @ O2 Academy Oxford 18/4/13

*Originally published for the Oxford Mail (23/4/13)

Cinematic pop lot Efterklang are huge in their native of Denmark and it seems us Brits are pretty fond of them too. In fact, Oxford's very own Foals had them support their sold-out show at the Royal Albert Hall last month. 

It's surprising then to find the six piece playing upstairs at the O2 Academy Oxford last Thursday, though it's to no detriment. One song in and the intimate upstairs venue already feels appropriate for a measured band like Efterklang. Opener 'Hollow Mountain' is flawless from the offset with crystalline female vocals, progressive bass and shimmering synths. 

'Frida Found A Friend' sees the band darting around the stage, swapping instruments and pressing buttons like mad scientists. It's rather unsettling to watch but it's also fascinating to listen to. This experimentalism really is at the heart of everything Efterklang do: making music to take apart and put back together again. 

Providing some light relief from the more leftfield numbers, the group bring in the catchy off-beat rhythms and chirpy brass of 'Black Summer', later treating us to gorgeous three part harmonies in 'Dreams Today'. It's one of those gigs that just keeps getting better and better. 

The end of the set is dominated largely by songs from their award-winning 2010 album, Magic Chairs. The scratchy guitar riff of 'Raincoats' gets heads bobbing but crowd-favourite 'Modern Drift' sounds even more sure of itself live with classic piano notes cutting through the track's orchestral makeup. 

Just as everyone thinks they've been spoilt enough by Efterklang's unquestionably slick showmanship, the band returns for an encore. 'Between The Walls' is breathtaking and the experimental track that follows has frontman Casper Clausen instructing the crowd to stomp and sing in two-part harmonies. It's hypnotising and beautiful. 

Closer 'Alike' is full of life and really allows the band to let themselves go: arms flailing, hair flicking and hands clapping in every direction. The track's urgent beat, robust group vocals and warm root notes leave the set on a high and it seems that nobody wants them to go. Perhaps we should adopt these Danes after all.

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