Unless ‘alternative rock bands from Sweden’ is your pub quiz specialty or you stumbled across them by fluke at Reading or Leeds festival this summer, it’s unlikely you will have come across Normandie before.
This is extremely unfortunate, as last month’s release of their second studio album White Flag is truly worth a listen.
Following their debut album in 2016, opening track ‘Ecstasy’ drops the listener straight into the catchy hooks and strong melody. Don’t be mistaken by the fun sounding name, as this is an aggressively despondent track that tees up an aggressively despondent record.
This is a heavy rock album with grit and power omnipresent in both the vocals and instrumental. If you like Bring Me The Horizon, Royal Blood or The Hunna, it is definitely worth giving this a listen.
Frontman Phillip Strand is solid and consistent throughout. There is nothing spectacular about his vocals, but they deliver consistently and with intent. Guitarist Håkan Almbladh and bassist Stefan Timmerholm are also solid, but the real star performance on this album comes from drummer Jesper Malmberg.
Normandie’s sound can get quite noisy and busy at times, but they do well to balance songs with quieter moments. The volume contrast created adds to many of the tracks on the album, none more so than ‘Dead’ where the listener’s expectation of a jump to a loud chorus is very cleverly subverted. The album as a whole is balanced by ‘The Bell’, a welcome rest from the intensity of the rest of the album. It adopts a quiet, sombre tone to contrast the loud, angry passion in other tracks.
Another surprise on this track is the only use of native Swedish on the album. Although you won’t understand it (unless, of course, you speak Swedish), it makes perfect sense and furthers the personal connection between the listener and the band, doing more than pander to Swedish fans.
In short, this album is great, and Normandie deserve more recognition. White Flag is worth a listen, even if its just so you can seem trendy and hipster in front of your friends.
Image: L.E Daniel Larsson via flickr