‘You don’t eat, you don’t shit, you don’t shit you die’
He’s got more advice for you too…
Opener ‘Farce’ shows that Finn Johansson doesn’t intend to do everything by the book. And the result is good – but different enough that it may fall into the ‘challenging’ camp for some listeners. On the whole the album is more of an indie offering than a folk one, which extends to the subject matter too. Songs like ‘Why did I eat so much food?’… well, that’s obviously not going to be a traditional folk story.
Having said that, I’m not going to lie – I will come back to this album more than some of the traditional folk that’s been flying around, because it’s just so fun and quirky-in-a-good-way.
‘Gregor Samsa’ opens with some beautiful harmonies and the phrase “My brain is an idiot” (My memories of many books are dim, but Kafka’s Metamorphosis is one that sticks in the mind – the protagonist Gregor turns into a massive bug). The comedic phrase works well. ‘Farce’ (with the lyrics above) has some indie-esque vocal effects that hint at what will come later in the album, and some cutesy percussion along with a neat interplay between bass and guitar.
Johansson’s lyrics have some remarkably cutting insights into life that I couldn’t help but laugh about. Apart from ‘Farce’, good examples are in ‘Cows and Guns’, and ‘Jesus Christ: Weirdo (Jesus Christ, Weirdo)’. Yes, that’s the full title, not just me repeating myself – where he asks why Jesus would choose to be a carpenter if he knew he’d only have 30 years, all in a pithy one-minute song. A very good point considering Jesus’ fate on a wooden cross. Not content at mucking in with Christians, there’s ‘Ramadan Blues’. Its recurring riff in the chorus and the lo-fi style of recording reminds me of 1940’s scratchy records I’ve heard; quaint, endearing, mirthful; a touch risqué? Maybe.
There are a few songs in the middle of the album that are the perfect balancers for everything before. Upbeat and fun, ‘Artificial brain’ opens with a gorgeous guitar riff, while the sparse ‘No hand at the wheel’ is as ghostly as the title suggests, and show what Johansson could have done if he had chosen to keep things ‘safe’.
Two thousand and fourteen is an interesting and challenging ride through Finn Johansson’s anything-but-boring mind. If you’re looking for something fresh and intriguing, then this could be what you’re looking for.