You Go Bird
Pull the Brakes
The Sound of You and Me
A Taste of What's to Come
If Said Was Done
From Now On
The Race Is On
In the Time After
Anonymous FM pop
As the last chord strikes, my main thought is that debutant Carlsen's got good taste in knitwear.
Judging by the album sleeve, the Alta-born debutant Petter Carlsen seems keen to portray himself with authenticity. Titles are written in cross-stitching or spelled out in rowanberries. Surrounded by foggy Norwegian sceneries, wearing a Marius sweater and with a cup of coffee close at hand, he does the down-to-earth dreamer look quite well. When in addition you know that his mum sewed limited edition CD-sized bags for his album release in which she slid a home made piece of chocolate, there's a certain warmth conveyed before even having heard a single note.
It's therefore a bit of a mismatch when title cut and opening track turns out to be slick FM pop à la Lene Marlin or Venke Knutson. Coincidentally, You Go Bird is also the single, which might explain the power-drum chorus, the overproduction, and the sound of label bosses whispering about the make-or-break radio hit in the background.
The remainder of the album hasn't been given an equal amount of radio-hit TLC, yet continues down a similar route of clean-cut balladry. Complete with gentle guitars, piano and soft vocals, Coldplay influences and an infatuation with post-80s a-ha are easily audible. With brushed snares and electric guitar plucking, the chorus on Pull The Brakes is not only a nudge to the latter's Memorial Beach, it's a moment where Carlsen's songwriting falls into place. Yet, with the overall tendency of one song being forgotten with the next, Carlsen is no Waaktaar.
Nor is he a great lyricist. It might be a language barrier, but the adolescent simplicity of phrases such as "Sweet words escaped from your mouth, they entered my ears", or "Each day is the most important, not yet touched by what's to come, not yet captured by the trap, not yet told to mind the gap" isn't holding up what's already a shaky scaffolding.
A much longed for standout moment arrives when Carlsen decides to ditch the nice- boy image. At the tail end of Half, he pushes his otherwise breezy vocals to the tether, hovering with piercing Nu-metal pipes over a backdrop of heavy bass and guitars. Over before it begun, it's the one time we're treated to real rawness, and one of few occasions where a piece of personality shines through.
So, apart from having a very nice sweater and a very nice mum, what makes Petter Carlsen special? Listening to You Go Bird leaves me none the wiser.