Stranger – Albert Mikkelsen (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

When I read that this EP is based on the story of a deserting soldier’s journey through doubts, disappearance, lies, regret, pride, PTSD, anxiety and a sense of alienation, I immediately expected to be presented by some lofty prog rock sonics or intense metal riffs. Such powerful and poignant subjects are, after all, usually the preserve of that corner of the musical market. To be faced with something as upbeat and groove-orientated as this was certainly unexpected, but wonderfully so.

Across four songs Albert Mikkelsen explores these deep and emotional themes, themes that are becoming increasingly discussed and hopefully better understood, but he does so to a wonderful array of electro-rock, capturing a post-punk dance vibe and occasionally a more weighty guitar sound and oozes future-nostalgia along the way.

Opening salvo Disappeared sets the scene both lyrically and sonically, playing with dynamics which wander between a sort of perky and energetic chorus and intimately whispered verses and Chill is a slower paced slice of psycho-drama punctuated with resonant beats and delivering soul-bearing confessions. The title track is a collection of shattered sonic splinters woven into a cold, clinical sound to match the bleak sentiments being expressed and Music for the Masses ends things with a rousing, anthemic swan-song.

It is rare that we find such weighty subjects being spliced with such accessible music and the fact that Albert Mikkelsen is able to do so makes Stranger an important part of a critical conversation.

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