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The Stockholm band Torpedo label their sound “kraut-pop” and name their chief influences as being Kraftwerk and Neu. This certainly comes through in their sound – even though they’re Swedish, it would be hard to come up with a more prototypical German sounding combo. Yet, to the ears of this writer at least, there’s another band that casts a long shadow over “Waiting For the Fall,” and their influence reached Scandinavia from across the North Sea rather than the Baltic.
Back in the 1980s, Scotland’s Simple Minds purveyed a melodic and melodramatic take on post-punk and new wave. Before they hit it big as a John Hughes soundtrack band, they were a sometimes very experimental outfit, mining the same Germanic influences Torpedo claims. But while Simple Minds sometimes flirted with becoming a synth-pop act, they never quite did so and maintained a basically standard rock band line-up. On “Waiting For the Fall,” Torpedo seem to have gone ahead and imagined what it would have sounded like if they ever had crossed over to full-on electronics.
Specifically, Torpedo sound a lot like Simple Minds crossbred with Swedish compatriots The Knife. Vocalist Andreas Hogby has a voice like a Scandinavian Jim Kerr, and when he sings “the sun will never shine again,” the melody sounds like it was beamed in directly from an album like New Gold Dream or Sparkle in the Rain. Musically, Torpedo are much more electronic than Simple Minds ever became and traffic in the continental version of synth-pop of The Knife or Kraftwerk – the synthesizers are much more icy and forbidding than U.K. or U.S. variations of the sound ever managed to be, and seem to carry in them all the dark history of Europe for the past thousand years.
It’s entirely possible that Simple Minds never entered into the conversation when Torpedo were establishing their sound, but for this writer anyway it’s impossible to listen to “Waiting For the Fall” without hearing their echo. It’s there in the voice, in the melody and in the sentiments expressed, alongside the German bands Torpedo was consciously emulating.
Torpedo’s new album, WE, will see a Scandinavian release on April 14th.