Release Date: Nov 4, 2008
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Frida Hyvönen's debut record, Until Death Comes, unveiled a singer with a sweet and powerful voice, as well as a songwriter with a gift for catchy melodies and compelling, off-kilter lyrics. Her second album, Silence Is Wild, changes up a few things but retains everything that made Hyvönen special. The main change is that, while her debut was rather sparse and featured Hyvönen's piano as the main instrument, here she and co-producer Jari Haapalainen chose to surround her voice and piano with a wide range of instruments (horns, strings, drums, synthesizers) and lush arrangements.
Swedish singer/songwriter Frida Hyvönen walks this oddly compelling line between awkwardness and grace, combining bombastic piano pop with an intimate and subtle side. Embarrassingly personal and blunt lyrics are salvaged by her dark sense of humour and clever plot twists, making you cringe and swoon in the same song - a unique tension that pays off more than you'd think. Listeners familiar with Hyvönen's 2005 debut, Until Death Comes, should be warned that this is a much lusher and more theatrical production.
If Frida Hyvönen’s debut, Until Death Comes, painted her poetry and fatalism in stark black on white, her impressive sophomore effort is all shades of grey. Largely abandoning the honky-tonk piano accompaniments that purposefully limited her early compositions, Hyvönen’s quietly grown into fully-realised pop star, her arrangements now lush where they were stark. Even on simple piano ballads, the Swedish songstress seems to have found greater confidence, a richer harmonic vocabulary, and a more coherent style.
Let’s not be coy: Frida Hyvonen debut, Until Death Comes, was a bizarre exercise in musical naïveté that made conservatory-trained pianist Regina Spektor’s "indie" album, Soviet Kitsch, seem like a bold attempt to unlearn her instrument and convey heartbreaking emotions (which it was), rather than a coldly pragmatic career move (um...which it’s often whispered to be). On the other hand, either Frida Just Couldn’t Play, or she took the joke too far. Her debut’s clumsier and less melodic than the first two Cat Power albums, without the redeeming feature of narrating an escape from Hell.
Where Tori and Fiona made the piano a vehicle for broken silence, Swede Frida Hyvönen slyly updates the story with animal magnetism on her second LP. Over 13 songs, she spans the spectrum of female emotion, her voice clear and matter-of-fact, even when she doubts herself, as on the plaintive "Why Do You Love Me So Much" ("Have I by mistake been extra charming? Oh, the chances are alarmingly low"). She grits her teeth and grips the minor keys on slow-burning stalker standout "Highway 2 U" ("Look into my eye, dear.