Tirzah, Arca, Jessy Lanza
" Imagine David Lynch inspired by cottagecore and Jamie XX records "
Smerz are a band that defy easy categorization. The Norwegian duo – Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt – craft a bewildering range of songs that span everything from tearful break-up tracks to scratchy techno, plus great slabs of experimental pop that threaten the integrity of your speakers. “Strange and alluring” said The Face; “Noctural music for dancefloor introverts” said Crack. One comment on YouTube summed it up even better – “Trent Reznor taking a tour of Warp Records”.
Certainly, there’s something uneasy and menacing about their music, a fearless approach that transcends traditional genre boundaries. Growing up together in Oslo, Stoltenberg and Motzfeldt moved to Copenhagen as teenagers to study, immersing themselves in the Danish capital’s acclaimed music scene – a key factor in their multifaceted approach to composition. Witness the proto-industrial-mixed-with-hip-hop stylings of ‘Believer’, or the moody, elegant strings and operatic vocals of ‘The favourite’. ‘Max’ is pure off-kilter, maximalist pop, while ‘Versace Strings’ strays into neo-classical territory with its harp and pretty piano lines.
All of the above come from their debut album, ‘Believer’, a record they’ve said concerns the end of long-term relationships and the pain of “struggling to connect with a person who means a lot to you.” At times a murky, unsettling listen, there’s a real emotional heft to the sixteen tracks: one can sense the hidden depths behind the cryptic lyrics and intense musical elements. “Lynchian” has become something of a cliché, yet it’s apt here – there’s a mystery to Smerz’s music, but real beauty too. It’s quite the combination.