Year 2, Day 4: Mando Diao’s [Beautiful] Ode to Gustaf Froding

Year 2, Day 4: Mando Diao – Infruset

Tracklisting

  1. Den Självslagne
  2. En Sångarsaga
  3. Infruset
  4. I ungdomen
  5. Snigelns visa
  6. Strövtåg i hembygden
  7. Men
  8. En ung mor
  9. Titania
  10. Gråbergssång

About the Album

Infruset, is the sixth studio release from Swedish rock band, Mando Diao. Infruset, is the first album of the band in their mother language, Swedish. The album is a series of ten poems, written by Gustaf Fröding, one of Sweden’s greatest poets and writers. The album was made on occasion of Fröding’s one hundredth death year (Fröding was born in 1860 and died in 1911. 2011 was the hundredth anniversary of his passing). The album was released on October 28th 2012.

Thoughts on the Album

(Preface: translating these songs was a wee bit difficult. I stopped using Google Translate as it is incredibly unreliable. Majority of (free) online translators are also unreliable. So sadly, I’m not even going to bother translating them on here. Sorry.)

As a native English speaker, I have zero clue as to how difficult or how different it must be for a non-native English speaking artist/band to not be able to sing in their mother language. Or if they do, it could alienate a part of fanbase that doesn’t speak or understand that language. But, I am huge believer in the concept that music’s appeal transcends any language barrier there may be. It’s like sports, transcending language barriers.

That said, with their sixth album, Infruset, Mando Diao gets a chance to debut their native tongues. When I first heard the track Strövtåg i hembygden on YouTube, I was partially shocked. I was surprised. I never realized that for a band whose sound and style is pure hard rock, that they could pull off something this soft and delicate. But leave it to the duo of Norén and Dixgård to pull off something amazing. That is why Gustaf [Norén] and Björn [Dixgård] are my favorite musicians.

May I just say, that the entire album is incredibly beautiful. It’s a beautiful kind of melancholy. It’s an incredible change of pace from Mando Diao’s usual “in-your-face” dual-guitar and vocal harmonies, rock and roll, punk rock, hard rock style of music that majority of Mando Diao fans are used to, or should I say accustomed to hearing. That’s what makes this album even more beautiful.

The songs are slow and melancholic ballads, which is an incredible change of pace and style from the usual Mando Diao sound. The true beauty of Mando Diao, is that there is no one specific style, as they are constantly changing and evolving. And if you are not adapting or evolving your sound, then you grow stale. The band went unplugged for the most part, using acoustic guitars and piano as the main instruments. All the while drums, bass, and strings are providing a smooth and gentle background. Their main focus was/is on Fröding’s words, with the instruments and their voices emphasizing the melancholy within the lyrics.

As I stated in the opening paragraph of the thoughts on this album, what makes this album special, is that it’s in their native tongue, Swedish. That is something special. Setting the swedish poet Fröding’s lyrics to music is a challenging task, and Mando Diao couldn’t have done it any better (if you ask me). In all honesty, the way they created this, it is hard to believe that it is really old Swedish poetry that they sing of.

Everything fits on this album perfectly. The sound, the music, the lyrics, the poetry. Everything. It is hard to not dreaming while listening to the tracks on Infruset, regardless of if you understand or speak Swedish or not.

Definitely the songs to listen to would be all of them (of course), but in the name of subjective objectivity: Strövtåg i hembygdenEn SångarsagaI ungdomen. Why those three?

  1. Strövtåg i hembygden has an excellent tempo to it with right amount of electric and acoustic guitar.
  2. En Sångarsaga starts out like a slow ballad and opens with light piano and other instruments. But then the wily duo of Gustaf [Norén] and Björn [Dixgård] throw a change up at about the 1:50 mark and go in a 180 degree direction. And increase in tempo plus instead of piano, it’s a keyboard, drums, strings, and of course, CJ’s European famous bass work.
  3. I ungdomen has some of the best three part harmonies that I ever heard. It’s Gustaf, Björn, and Björn’s sister, Linnéa.

Conclusion

Ten poems, 100 years old, combined with my favorite music in the world. The result is simply amazing. In fact, absolutely amazing. These ten songs are so incredibly enchanting and full of northern magic. The mark of an amazing album is that even after the last song ends, the music continues playing your head. That’s what Infruset didEven after the last song, “Gråbergssång” ended, the music continued to play in my head.

The album, for a melancholy one, left me entranced, almost putting me in a serene and calm state of mind. In all honesty, you don’t have to speak Swedish to comprehend the songs and the underlying feelings. Infruset gives us an offer, an insight into the Swedish soul and we just have to accept it and dive right in.

Gustaf Norén and Björn Dixgård create such an atmosphere so intense, that it makes you want to hold your breath with each song. Suffice to say, if you were looking for something happy and uplifting, or loud and booming, well you’re out of luck. Infruset is no light fare to say the least. It’s definitely sad, melancholic, and slow. But I believe anyone (and everyone) can enjoy this.

Infruset highlights Mando Diao’s true style: one that is constantly evolving and changing. And that, my friends, is what makes this album beautiful.

Final thought: some things are meant to be translated. Infruset, isn’t one of those things. The beauty lies in the Swedish language, and therefore, I believe shouldn’t be changed, edited, or translated into English. Ever.

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