Release Date: May 6, 2014
Record label: Run for Cover Records
Make no mistake with how dark Makthaverskan's II is. Yes, they're a Swedish indie-pop-rock ensemble. But their musical content lies very much on the darker side of life. After hearing a couple tracks from them a while back, they never pegged me as anything that stood out but this record catches you ….
There’s a tendency in American culture to use foreign punk bands to gain insight to another nation’s political and emotional tenor, and that’s just not gonna work with Sweden’s Makthaverskan. Though a reaction to what they considered to be a conformist, “happy and cute” indie scene in Gothenburg, II is an interior and personal record of constricted scope, occurring entirely within Maja Milner: in her blood, in her head, in her body, in her room. Beyond that, who knows what else is going on in the world—but that’s the whole point of II, a record of unhinged beauty that can be wrested from longing and anger.
There are singers who use reverb as a crutch, and then there’s Makthaverskan’s Maja Milner, who would break any crutch she tried to lean on. Her voice is a weapon. The reverb is a sheath. She pierces through the mix on the Swedish band’s second LP, sounding both distant and shockingly immediate.
Having introduced their post-punk-meets-dream-pop with 2009’s eponymous full-length, Makthaverskan’s influences were clearly entrenched in early British punk and shoegaze. With a sparse, somewhat rough sound, the Swedish quintet veered between iciness and warmth in an intriguing manner, and though it was a good record, too often their reverence for Buzzcocks and the Only Ones diminished a sense of uniqueness. Returning five years later with II, Makthaverskan retain the elements that made them compelling, married to far better songwriting and greater emotional depth, making for an understated, engaging and often sublime collection.