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A year and a half ago, I was smitten by the second full-length by Swedish duo Friska Viljor called Tour de Hearts. At the time, they were total unknowns to me (a friend at an indie distributor had sent the disc along on a whim), but their music told more of a story than any blog hype or record label one-sheet could hope to do. Daniel Johansson and Joakim Sveningsson, the beating heart of Friska Viljor (which roughly translates as “healthy minds”), wield a rare gift when it comes to expertly developing their musical ideas. Their sound is distinctive and captivating, which is why a year and a half later, tracks from Tour de Hearts still pop up when my iPod is on shuffle. In a second round of serendipity, I received an email out of the blue last night from Johansson with a new MP3 from For New Beginnings, the pair’s third record which will be released on October 14th.
From its first sea shanty horn arrangements through its off-kilter verses, “Wohlwill” shows an affinity for the burlesque leanings of bands like Gogol Bordello and Man Man. The big difference, however, is that where these other bands frequently contrive themselves to fulfill an odd musical niche, Friska Viljor isn’t afraid to follow their flights of musical fancy. This freedom takes “Wohlwill” to all kinds of other wonderful places–their horn section alone takes turns alternating between playful Dixieland riffs and Jamaican rockers-styled blasts. Vocally, there are comparisons to be drawn to the melodically strained growls of compatriots The Shout Out Louds while the lyrics detail a week the duo spent on Wohlwill Strasse in Hamburg a couple of years ago. Ultimately, the defining characteristic of “Wohlwill” are those memorable melodies which only intensify as the song unfurls. Friska Viljor have recorded a sweeping, jubilant statement with this song, one I can only hope helps garner them the appreciation their music deserves.