iamamiwhoami // Kin // June 11 // To Whom It May Concern
By now we all established the fact that when the planet says “POP”, Sweden replies “how high?”. What you don’t usually expect from the hook minded Scandinavians is the sort of internet memes that would make the whole world shut up, take notice and skip through their daily ruitine thinking about just who the hell you really are. That’s exactly what iamamiwhoami did. Finally, two years after she first hit the Youtube, we have a studio LP to back up the videos.
Other than the background staff, iamamiwhoami is singer-songwriter Jonna Lee. She mixes ambient, trip hop, synthpop and dream pop to create the sort of easily enjoyable music that stands quite far removed from the likes of Robyn or Lykke Li. The videos and some of the early song titles might make you think that iamamiwhoami is dealing with ideas before offering music but her first proper LP Kin begs to differ. This is honest to hooks pop music that isn’t all that weird as some people would want you to think. The opening punch of Sever and Drop portrays Lee as a more streamlined cousin to The Knife, former is chilled out, emotional dream pop and the latter wouldn’t sound out of place in nightclubs. So forget the videos, forget the zany clues and all that intelligent but distracting stuff, Kin is a pop album by a woman from Sweden, we sure heard about those before didn’t we?
What’s different about Kin is how it doesn’t sound sugary, it doesn’t feel like it’s sucking up and trying to imitate established artists from the UK or the USA. Kin doesn’t sound all that bothered whether you like it, approach it or even listen to it. That is a very good trait for a pop album because this year biggest Swedish export was a couple of try-hards thinking that painting their faces will prevent them from failing miserably (luckily, they flopped hard). Even when you don’t think about all the videos, Kin treads that thin line between pop pleasure and experimentation without much failure. Play is one of the most memorable things on here, opening with a passage of noise before turning into something that could be described as a ballad, and a beautiful one at that. Still, experimentation aside, iamamiwhoami is the best when she is focused on what makes good pop, ultimately this is what she does on Kin. In Due Order focuses to much on separate parts of itself and doesn’t form a good, cohesive song. The follow-up Idle Talk sounds a lot like that Class Actress record from last year. Kin might be unfocused but as far as actually enjoyable experimental pop in 2012 goes, this is where it’s currently at.
Oh but if you like your pop with ideas that may or might not go over your head, go to iamamiwhoami’s Youtube channel. Every single track from the album has a video made for it and they all add to a bigger story. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the multimedia world of iamamiwhoami or just listen to her music, there’s quite a lot to take from Kin’s flirt with experimentalism and familiarity. It might all be a part of a larger scale plan for Lee but Kin is a fine album on its own merit and one that will represent Swedish pop when year end lists roll on.