AGONY STREET – Songs For William

Silverton 2020

Songs For William

Free from the webs of the past, lost layer of great late Swedish songwriter’s lore comes to light.

A merry record with a sorry aura and a retro aroma, this album is a multicolored blast from the past: Klas Qvist laid it down in 1993, deciding soon after that there was no sense in soldiering on with the AGONY STREET project whose hattrick of platters remained on the shelf, and reinvented himself as CITIZEN K whose "III" would close not only another chapter in the Scandinavian melodicist’s creative run but also, seemingly, his discography. Still, the veteran’s passing in 2021 turned the opening of his vault into a testament of sorts – the reveal Qvist requested shortly before his tragic demise – although “Songs For William” doesn’t let the listener to be sad, opting instead for a festive delving into the unpatinated period of psych-pop, the style Klas and partner-in-rhyme Gudmundur Bragason mastered to a tee.

Which is why, despite its deceptive gloom, “Another Sleepless Night” refuses to surrender to anxiety and invites all the willing for an adventurous stroll towards via Qvist’s sparkling strum and Bragason’s catchy beat, topped with full-on feeling of freedom infusing the duo’s voices and peaking on the piece’s irresistible chorus, while the raga-scented and aloha-perfumed “A Song For William” exudes soft innocence, as sitar and slider roll towards the sunset. So even if numbers like “Right Place, Wrong Century” or “The Voices Inside My Head” edge too close to The Fabs’ and Brian Wilson exuberantly tuneful, “yeah”-encrusted template, and “Looking For Grand Mal” offers a certain pastiche, they’re arrestingly many-layered and incredibly detailed on the lyrical and instrumental levels, ivories driving jangly guitars that evoke flamenco on “A Perfect Day For A Breakup” and apply rockabilly twang to “39′ Tank” to spice up Klas and Gudmundur’s beach-blissed vocal harmonies and contrast the cut’s roaring verses. And when the slower, albeit lysergically expansive, “Plastic Revolution” presents William the protagonist and his coterie again, there’s an apparent concept to enjoy.

It’s difficult not to fall under the patchouli-sprinkled spell of “Therapy Hill” which segues into the initially spaced-out but ultimately cosmically, comically histrionic delight of “Be My Wife” which goes klezmer in the middle, whereas “I Bet They Wish” is poignant, and “I’ve Heard It All Before” has a self-mocking air to it. As bonus 2019 singles “Merry Christmas Anyway” and “Goodbye Forever” sprinkle scintillating, effervescent abandon over bitter sweetness and post-factum perfection, there’s nothing left to say once their piano-laden quietude is over – only to celebrate the talent that left this mortal coil for celestial realm too soon.


September 24, 2022

Category(s): Reviews
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