Swedish producer/songwriter Andreas Kleerup (better known by just his surname) must be a patient man. His international debut, simply named Kleerup, has taken over two years from conception to fruition, thanks to a series of trajectory changing moments. Some were good – Collaboration with Robyn With Every Heartbeat, aided by critical acclaim, came from nowhere to reach no.1 on the UK charts over a year ago. Some were bad – Collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, the excellent Lay Me Down, was stripped entirely of her vocals due to her refusal for the original to appear on his album. Appropriately, this is an album heavily influenced by guest vocals.
In saying that, Kleerup’s aptitude lies as much in his instrumental work as his choice for vocalists. Album opener Hero is an exciting mix of rippling bass, pulsating synth-pop and (captivatingly) Gregorian chants – Not only an effective alliance but also a fitting insight into Kleerup’s signature style. Similarly, Chords benefits from absent vocals – By no means a radio hit but a perfect concoction for weekend chill-out sessions.
Until We Bleed maximizes the talents of the perennially dependable Lykke Li. It’s not immediate, but encapsulates Kleerup’s dazzling ability to ignore modern pop conventions. It contains no definable chorus and stews string arrangements, electro-pop and haunting female vocals. Sound familiar? It should. With Every Heartbeat was a modern electro-pop masterpiece that similarly breached contemporary pop convention and earned Kleerup his kudos.
This songwriting knack can be further witnessed on 3am, a seemingly saccharine tune that masks the tale of a neglected lover, “3am, honey where you been? Cell phone turned off I waited here, by the phone again, just like last night.” Other highlights include the gorgeous Longing for Lullabies, a breezy electro-balled showcasing Titiyo’s melodious voice.
The originally titled Lay Me Down suffers substantially from the loss of Lauper’s vocals. Kleerup is well aware of this, audaciously renaming it Thank You For Nothing – A deserved stab at Lauper’s austerity.
Comparisons are undoubtedly drawn between Kleerup’s debut and other Scandinavian electro-pop albums such as Royksopp’s recent Junior, no doubt assisted by both employing Robyn and Lykke Li’s vocal chops. Luckily, Kleerup’s distinctive sound and genre colliding ingenuity secure his name as an artist to watch.
Key Tracks: With Every Heartbeat, Longing For Lullabies, 3am, Until We Bleed