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CONCERT: Abstract Crimewave
CONCERT: Abstract Crimewave

Fri, 15 Nov


Plan B

CONCERT: Abstract Crimewave

Doors 6 PM 18+ (13+ w/ guardian)

Time & Location

15 Nov 2024, 19:00

Plan B, Norra Grängesbergsgatan 26B, 214 50 Malmö, Sweden

About the event

First things first: Abstract Crimewave are not a new band. Joakim Åhlund and Bjorn Yttling have been making music together for over a decade, and this record is their third together, following on from "Phantom Island" in 2022 and their debut, 2012’s "A Flash in the Night." Then, though, they were called Smile, and it was only after they finished work on this scintillating third record that they realized a change of identity might be a good idea. “We never would have changed our name,” explains Åhlund, “but those guys from Radiohead, they stole it! And it looks like they aren’t going to quit, and they’re on some huge record label, so we were always going to be the other Smile if we continued. But our new name is way better than Smile, anyway. So they can have it.”

Consequently, they are now reborn as Abstract Crimewave, and have their finest collection of songs to date to offer up as a first mission statement under their new name. It was perhaps unsurprising that nearly a decade passed between their first and second albums; after all, the pair both have many musical irons in the fire. Åhlund is a legend of the Swedish underground, somebody who has played in bands including Teddybears, Caesars and Les Big Byrd and is a producer of international renown, having written for and produced the likes of Robyn, Charli XCX and Giorgio Moroder. Yttling, too, has a vastly impressive resume; he is the Bjorn in Stockholm indie pop stalwarts Peter Bjorn and John, and has produced and written for Lykke Li, Primal Scream and Neko Case, among many others.

The pair worked together on other projects after "A Flash in the Night," but it wasn’t until "Phantom Island" that they triumphantly revived the band that is now Abstract Crimewave, and realized that they shouldn’t leave it so long again next time. “We did some live shows that were pretty fun and inspiring, and we were like, ‘we should do another one,’” says Yttling. “But the difference this time is that we didn’t leave the ideas to marinate for years. We just went in as a trio, the two of us plus our drummer, and got to work without worrying about layers and overdubs.” The result is "The Longest Night," a record that streamlines the ethos of this band and boils it down to its purest essence; this is the sound of Åhlund and Yttling paying tribute to the many different styles of music they love. Where previously they would work loosely in the studio with a revolving door policy for friends of the band to come in and jam, this time they handled everything but the drums between the two of them, allowing their interpersonal musical chemistry to come to the fore.

There are nods to many of their musical touchpoints; opener ‘Heading Out’ is a breezy, freewheeling indie pop romp, ‘Sailing Away’ nods to krautrock with its irresistible driving rhythm, and atmospheric interludes like 'The Lighthouse' and 'Dämba Träsk’ accentuate the sense that the duo are building their own sonic world on "The Longest Night." “We were able to explore ideas that maybe we wouldn’t have had the patience for on our first album,” says Yttling. “There’s more riffs, more guitars. We were able to work quickly because we’d secluded ourselves in the studio; it wasn’t like the other albums, where we’d invite friends around to play with us, and we’d be drinking wine and hanging out, and the songs take longer to come together.”

This being an Abstract Crimewave record, though, there was no doubt that Åhlund and Yttling were going to flick through their impressive contacts book to invite some guests on the record. "Phantom Island" saw featured turns by Robyn and Freja the Dragon and this time, the pair call on A-list talent in Lykke Li, Chrissie Hynde and Dungen. Lykke Li turns in a sultry vocal turn on the enigmatic ‘The Gambler,’ while Hynde, whose debut solo album, "Stockholm," was written and produced by Åhlund and Yttling, lends her unmistakable vocals to the psych-tinged pop of the title track. Dungen frontman Gustav Ejstes, meanwhile, sings and plays flute on the chirpy ‘Flyga Fram.’ “It’s amazing that we can still trick people into being on our records!” laughs Yttling. “These wonderful people put their precious time aside for us, and I really think we got the best of all three of them on this record.”

It all adds up to Abstract Crimewave’s strongest work yet, an infectiously sunny journey into the wonderfully weird world, and the perfect way to launch their new identity. "In Sweden, when you get to around the 22nd of December, there's something uplifting about knowing that it's the longest night, because it's the turning point of something," says Yttling of the record's title. "And maybe that's what this album is for us as a band, a turning point." He might just be right: this is the sound of Abstract Crimewave moving boldly towards the light.

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