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Pop detractors may complain about the genre’s detachment from reality, about how often it is paired with and conjures idyllic imagery of beautiful people in beautiful places being artful and beautiful. As such, it can come off as precious and so very contrived. Indie-pop in particular can flip the needle on a bullshit meter deep into the red, and even the well intentioned knitters and crafters, the scrapbookers and the sweater-clad cyclists can get tangled up in an aesthetic so tightly that to translate it musically becomes an excessive, nauseating experience, like eating cupcakes until you puke.
That may be a fair assessment to level at the indie-popsters. However, when it’s done right indie-pop can become just as epic and soaring as a metal anthem, just as nuanced as a jazz ballad. In this regard, Icelanders are making the best indie-pop out there, forgoing the twee appropriations and the overwrought sweetness in favor of crafting songs that are so thickly layered that they become majestic and grand.
Today’s featured track, “Always Everything” by Sin Fang (formerly Sin Fang Bous as featured in our October 2009 podcast), is like a fortress made of lace–an apt metaphor since his favorite fashion accessory seems to be a crocheted beard; facial hair even a grandmother could love. “Always Everything” is a grandiose creation built from expertly laying delicate sounds atop one another. Feathery acoustic guitars cradle the vocal harmonies that brush up against cascading lead lines, which wash over brief refrains from a hammer dulcimer. Even the percussion, which lends the song its driving energy, comes off as less of a stampede and more of a series of gentle footfalls.
An obvious contemporary of Mum and Sigur Ros, Sin Fang treads in familiar aesthetic waters. That doesn’t make it any less interesting to listen to. This music is brimming with ideas, and as such it avoids the pitfalls of pop pastiche and nauseating sweetness. “Always Everything” comes off the new album, Summer Echoes, released this past March on Germany’s Morr Music label.