Digitizing an archive of over 100 gigs of music has afforded me with the much needed impetus to think long and hard about the music I have been collecting for the past 25 years. Much of it, I have found, fall under a few genres that I have distractedly entitled “indie-folk,” “folktronica,” “slowcore,” “orchestral pop,” etc. Being forced to categorize music, that is either uncategorizable or more broadly and easily described as “rock,” is both an invigorating and frustrating intellectual exercise. But in the end it has helped bring some definition to my own tastes – whether or not I want to acknowledge what they have become over time – softer, gentler, and more focused.
It was while struggling to figure out how to classify the new epic, sweeping masterpiece of an album by Magnet (aka Even Johansen) that I become mesmerized with yet another young Norwegian wunderkind. Cut from the same quiet, velvet-beatles inspired cloth, as fellow countrymen Kings of Convenience and Sondre Lerche, “On Your Side” is part Thom Yorke (Radiohead) part Elliot Smith and part Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters). The music is both majestic and somber, at times cabaret inspired at other times trippy weed soaked rainy day music. If nothing else Magnet is one of the most talented and honest writers in a long while. He manages to avoid clichés and yet still speaks about the most commonplace emotions in a new way accompanying himself with a creamy guitar and orchestral backdrop that allows you to merely drift away. I will be surprised if this record ever falls out of rotation. It is timeless, and near perfect.