A delightful soundscape of 80’s New Wave, LearningToDive’s ‘Norwegian Pop’ is out now. The debut album is full of atmosphere and beautifully engineered tracks that are chocked full of smooth synths and beats that just make you wanna lie back and relax. Full of references to the passage of time and nature, this album has been a culmination of LearningToDive’s life experiences and his recent years questioning his place in the world; if you are a fan of existentialism, boy is this the album for you.
The first song off the LP is ‘I Stand On An Ice Floe’ with a new music video just out to boot. It reminds me of the atmospheric music from the television programme Heroes, the strings are gorgeous and really meld with the synths, centring the music right to the last note of the beat which gets smaller and smaller, really showing the desolation that this song embodies. The music video, which depicts a single man in ice, matches the scale of the grand and glacial music. It shows a passage of time which is a recurring theme through this album, perhaps giving a fitting nod to LearningToDive’s strong musical influence from decades gone.
Next up is ‘Rainbow Fall’ and straight away I’m transported into that same 80’s feel. The message is about inclusion and world peace, encouraging people to be better, through instrumentals that are yet again built up really well with layers of synths.
The next song on the agenda is ‘Tainted’. There’s a clockwork effect from the percussion, linking back to the overarching theme of time passing and then it really hits in, with full 80s style synths and drums the theme feels a bit darker and provides a little more of a rock feel than the others. The lyrics seem to be judging and angry, but you can’t help but dance to the chorus that is jam packed full with little musical accompaniments that mean a replay is definitely in order to take it all in.
‘Falling Leaves‘ is just peaceful, with a meditative start, everything feels so in-sync and placed with precision and care. Commentating on change in the world, the track suggests things are usually the same on a large scale – the seasons are always there and the leaves will always will fall. Some really deep bassy synths come into the bridge, with a powerful and thick dynamic, shifting the feel of the song; instead of observant, it twists into a warning that time is slipping and there is no way to control it.
‘Promenade’ was one of my personal favourites. The intro is stripped back and rises slowly with little pieces coming in bit by bit, hinting at the song to come. The clashing notes in the synths really hit well and the choir parts are gorgeous. Some smooth layered vocals that feel purposeful and offbeat come-ins that are clever and original, make the song feel like an adventure. The music video is instantly different to ‘I Stand On An Ice Floe’, still nature-oriented showing beautiful scenery but much more spring set. An interesting effect comes from the layering of videos on top of each other, communicating a lot about LearningToDive through a type of visual soundscape.
‘I’ll Smile’ has more gorgeous walls of sound, piano and harp noises which is a great fit with the song. Brassy instruments really bring in more depth and yet more tones that I wouldn’t of expected, but combined they gel together so well, showing that the album is tributing to 80’s without the cliches.
‘High and Dry’ immediately feels like a more serious song. Tones of regret laid within, the pace allows breathing room for the message of self-judgement. I love the use of synths in this track, and the saxophone line that really gives me 80s serious cop shows vibes, but works so well with the tone of the piece, with the vocals that bring this genre into the twenty-first century. Some lovely choir vocals start ‘Little Requiem’ off, with seamless transitions from major to minor chords, proving that with each twist and turn of this album is unexpected but pleasing nonetheless.
The last three tracks are edits of the other tracks, creating songs that lean more towards the alternative rock vibe, crossing into the genre with clever changes and alternative melodic structures that really show the span of what can be done with already dazzling and inventive ideas. This album is spot on with its hat tips to the 80s. Though it still remains relevant, exciting and original; each song has a different tale and style but all of them fit together with ease, and show that LearningToDIve has an exciting career ahead if this is any suggestion of what will be coming soon.
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