The Minds of 99

Solkongen

Written by: LL on 23/12/2018 22:16:22

Denmark's newest massively popular rock group, The Minds of 99, have released three albums by now, and the fact that our review of this one comes so late pretty much only has to do with us being slow. Partly, though, it also has to do with how it has a way more urban and pop-like sound akin to many of Denmark's popular pop/rap/autotune artists rather than the previously dominating one of post-punk and electro-rock. Most of its songs are highly danceable and several of them end in sections that are utilized heavily to rave out in live settings. The songs remind me more and more of a new wave turn to the band's post-punk roots with their seamless coupling between synthesizers and guitar riffs. The Minds' newest album won the prize as "Rock Album of the Year" in Gaffa Denmark's awards earlier in 2018, and since then, it has only gone upwards for them. They performed their second show at Roskilde Festival's Orange Stage this Summer (arguably the biggest merit badge for a Danish band locally), sold out four consecutive nights at Store Vega that are happening in about a week, as well as announced an upcoming headlining show at Royal Arena in November 2019. All facts pointing to their status as impossible-to-get-around staples of the Danish music scene and as such, I thought it was time that we caught up with the release that we missed at first here at Rockfreaks.net.

The album "Solkongen" ("The Sun King") came out in two EP's before being presented as a full album back in February of this year. The upwards-striving title track is a ballad that sets the tone for the record and presents central themes of ego, megalomania, melancholy, and dramatic emotion. Apart from that, the first half consists of the single "Ung Kniv" ("Young Knife") and three very different tracks that have each gone on to significant spots in the group's live material. "Ung Kniv" is an uplifting and simple track that is super catchy in its own right and easily latches on to one's mind, but in time, considering the richness of the following songs, it becomes perhaps too simple in its very basic approach. The more industrially tinged "I'm Gonna Die" introduces a darker vibe and a mix of Danish and English lyrics, both elements that continue into the next song as well. It is the hardest-going song here, though, and stands apart because of it. Next one is "Ubåd" ("Submarine") - a song that really grows into its own over time, in my experience. It's downplayed and atmospheric, mirroring the exact feeling of being submerged in water, in your own world. Everything in it from its echoing main riff to the way vocalist Niels Brandt is drenched in effects so his otherwise sharp Copenhagen voice blurs out, goes towards this effect. Finally, there is the funkier "Guldregn" (literally "Gold Rain" but also the name of a poisonous plant) that begins with a number of weirder sounds and unusual vocal lines. It features some spoken lines by (in)famous Danish poet Jørgen Leth and builds up in a way akin to an earlier track like "Familie" that featured odd sounds and a very rhythmic basic verse as well.

With the longer second half, we get a more serious, emotional vibe immediately. The next three songs have all become staples of The Minds' catalogue by now and tackle emotional depth and melancholy more head-on. Brandt sings deeper and the guitars are in front for the smash hit "Alle Skuffer Over Tid" ("Everyone Disappoints In Time") that already has every fan yelling along live to the off-beat second verse that includes the title itself. As the only song here it also features an overt guitar solo, in the midst of its repetitive dance beats. "K Før Ærlighed" ("K Before Honesty", a point made of the fact that love in Danish is "kærlighed" while honesty is just "ærlighed") picks us up from the cold truths of the preceding track with a warmer wobbling sound and a kinder message. The three-punch high proceeds with "Stor Som En Sol / Flad Som En Pandekage" ("Big Like A Sun / Flat Like A Pancake") that is a personal favorite and arguably also the song here that lyrically resounds most with aforementioned Danish urban and pop. Still, Brandt is a poet gifted with the ability to say things very directly, yet with somewhat unusual words that nevertheless fit the music and melody perfectly, in a combination that is unbelievably satisfying to follow - not least in this fairly poppy song. The last three tracks seem more resigned than what has gone before and are arguably the weakest part of the record. The mood is somewhat bleak with "En Engel" ("An Angel") resounding lines that translate to "I cannot change the one that I am / It doesn't matter what I do / So everything ends just like before" and "Ideen Er Død" ("The Idea Is Dead") focusing on a perceived death of the American Dream and mirroring the funky nature of "Guldregn" before blissing out in a dance synthesizer section. "(Tak For I Dag)" ("Thank You For Today") finally ends the record in a hazy outro, but in a way that lets the record sizzle out softly.

I don't always go track by track when trying to present an album in a review, but with "Solkongen", Minds have made a distinctly unified album, that more so than previously presents a coherent idea or mindset. Not every song here is jaw-dropping, then, but they all distinctly have their role to play in the bigger picture. That alone is rare in a music scene now focused more and more on singles, even more so when talking about massively popular music that gets more than enough radio play and doesn't need to adhere to standard album ideas. Despite the fact that they already swooned a generation with defining hits like "Stjerner På Himlen" ("Stars In The Sky") and "Hurtige Hænder" ("Fast Hands"), this is no doubt, as a whole, The Minds' best album to date. Furthermore, it explores those themes of megalomania and egoism and tweaks their collected expression with a mature development of the bleak but hopeful outlook on life's opportunities, updating their style while keeping true to the path they set out on from the start of their career.

Download: I'm Gonna Die, Alle Skuffer Over Tid, Ubåd
For The Fans Of: Nephew, Suede, The Editors, Joy Division
Listen: facebook.com/TheMindsOf99

Release date 23.02.2018
No3

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