The 1st

The 1st

Written by: BV on 23/05/2014 21:20:16

Seemingly out of nowhere, a band involving The Setting Son front-man Sebastian T.W. Kristiansen, as well as three other prolific musicians in Adam Olsson, Johan Lei Gellett and Henrik ‘Hellman’ Lysgaard, emerged with an album in dire need of crowdfunding in order for it to see the light of day as a vinyl release. Obviously intrigued, I donated what little I could afford so that I could arrive at this very moment: sitting in my couch listening to the self-titled debut album by The 1st, listening to it for what must effectively be the tenth time.

It’s strange really, as Sebastian T.W. Kristiansen is one of my absolute favorites of contemporary songwriters – yet somehow this album differs quite a bit from what I would usually have associated with him – both in terms of lyricism as well as in terms of song structures. It’s a somewhat mature approach that stands in a stark contrast to the naivety and straight-forwardness of especially the first album from The Setting Son. Surprisingly enough, it suits the songs quite well and helps clarify what the difference between The Setting Son and The 1st is – and why this collection of songs couldn’t have been recorded under that particular moniker.

At first, album opener “Epiphany” sounds like a straight-forward garage-rock track that, as is the custom, emphasizes simple chord progressions, fuzzed-up lead lines, boogie-infused bass-playing and drumming that is remarkably catchy – often leading to people such as myself looking like complete jackasses when clapping along to it whilst not even caring one bit about it. What makes it stand out though, is the signature vocal style of Kristiansen – the sort of nasal, oddly insecure yet piercing vocals that can be hard to get under your skin – yet when they’re there it’s incredibly hard to get rid of them again.

The same can be said about “OCD” but there’s also something that sets this track apart from the bulk of the material on this debut album. It’s got an infectious groove (like the rest) but it also has a unique pop-sensibility that makes it a veritable summer hit. – At least for me. With Kristiansen singing lines like; ”Standing on the border / to obsessive, compulsive, disorder!” one could argue that the emphasis is on simplicity in the lyrics, but that’s also what makes them completely relatable. They never really enter a zone of banality wherein it becomes so terrible that you wouldn’t want to relate to them – instead they constantly flirt with a minimalistic approach that doesn’t come off as forced or overthought.

I’d argue that the main weakness of this album is actually the lack of a semi-psychedelic presence. The album is incredibly concise and it provides both a clear focus but also a worrying lack of variety in the end. Yes, tracks like “Surrender”, “OCD” and “One Minute More” are wicked – but I’d also like some more variety in the remaining tracks that could make them as memorable as the three tracks I mention here. Anyway it’s still a quite solid debut that will probably appeal to most of The Setting Son’s fanbase – in addition to those who prefer a more straightforward approach to the garage rock genre.

Download: Surrender, OCD, One Minute More
For the fans of: The Setting Son, The Good The Bad, Fuzzy Vox
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.05.2014
Drone Recordings

The 1st - Surrender (official audio) from The 1st on Vimeo.

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