Written by: HES on 28/06/2014 18:19:28

Now Passenger and I have a special history together. I went to see his Vega gig in November and awarded him my first ever - and since not repeated - 10/10 here on Rockfreaks. Passenger managed to combine songs about love and songs about society in very uncommon ways with lines like "Who needs love, when we've got silicone and strap ons". I had heard none of his songs before but the un-avoidable "Let Her Go" that has never been a worse testimony to what this guy is actually capable of. Now obviously I went straight home and fell in love with Passenger's fourth LP "All The Little Lights" which also made it to my "Albums of 2014"-list. But now, the honeymoon days are over and I am faced with disappointment in Passenger's second release "Whispers".

If you have in some way managed to not hear a single song from Passenger - or Mike Rosenberg as his common-law name is - I don't know which rock you climbed out from under; but welcome! And let me explain his musical style: Passenger is primarily a singer-songwriter but makes use of different instruments, like trumpets or xylophones, on his albums. His vocals are reminiscent of someone like Cat Stevens or Danish singer Poul Dissing, nasal and raspy. In this album it ends up playing more to the cutesy rather than the quirky end of the scales.

While Passenger's music has always been leaning to the more depressing part of the emotional landscape, his last release actually had a wide range of both tempi and moods. Unfortunately, this album is more to the quiet love songs and the societal dissonance is revealed in clichés rather than wit, with lines like "We need something real, not just hashtags and Twitter" from "Scare Away The Dark". Yeah, yeah we get it, but it's so banal in comparison to the lyrics of former Passenger songs like the bitingly bitter "I Hate" with lyrics like "We pretend to be friends on the internet when in real life we have nothing to say". The juxta-position of this nice, polished guy with melodic tunes and lyrics that included words like "fuck", "coke" and "hate" is completely lost on this album. It seems some “truth” or “edge” has been reviewed and removed to fit into the radio-cuts. It doesn't work.

Now I don't in any way, form or shape accuse Rosenberg of having sold out. This man has been playing gigs and lived on the road. His "I'll live on the streets if that means I can play music everyday"-attitude is worthy of a medal - for such devotion is hardly found in the music industry today. But he has lost some edge that was found on "All The Little Lights". Some of the songs from "Whispers", like "Heart's on Fire", "27" and "Coins in a Fountain" are more than well-written pop-songs that should make many a musician jealous. But with a music scene with so many singer-songwriters and melody-makers at the moment, something special is needed to break through the monotony of it all and this album stays in the monotonous realm of music that doesn't grip me by the balls and says "What is up?".

Download: 27, Heart's on Fire, Riding to New York
For The Fans Of: Stu Larsen, Ed Sheeran, Tom Odell

Release date 06.06.2014
Nettwerk/Black Crow

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