From the icy reaches and rainy streets of the lovely Bergen, Norway, a clarion call of poignant introspection and social critique is set to resonate this autumn in the form of a new full-length LP, “Cold in the Smart City” by the band Neighboring Sounds. With a portfolio of reputed international record labels eager to associate with the release – Friend Club, Bcore, Adagio830, Strictly No Capital Letters, and others – Neighboring Sounds has undeniably struck a chord that resonates across the globe.
The release of the album’s first single, “Holiday Palaces“, provides an enticing glimpse into what is yet to come. It’s a bold piece of music that explores a fine balance between lush sonics and stark, narrative-driven songwriting. On the surface, the pulsating rhythm might seem to capture the undulating ebb and flow of the everyday life, yet a closer listen reveals an undercurrent of critique, dealing with rampant consumption and the illusion of luxury.
Neighboring Sounds’ vocalist and lyricist, Arild Eriksen, shapes this message with a genuine sense of urgency. His piercing commentary addresses the Anthropocene age, where unchecked consumption and digitization are wreaking havoc on our planet and radically altering the nature of work and leisure. The song sets a striking contrast between an urban existence, characterized by self-driving buses and sensor-activated care, and a simplistic natural life filled with the joys of foraging and a direct connection with the environment.
The band elucidated their perspective further in a recent conversation. As they contend, the song draws from the throbbing vitality of dance music and the distinctive rhythmic drive of bands like Hot Snakes and Pinback, not least helped by the energy of the bass riff provided by the new bassist Anders Blom, also known from the bands Flight Mode and Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson.
More than a musical piece, it is a commentary on the unbridled consumption in Norwegian society, which has grown by over 50% since the ’70s. The environmental implications are stark and the depletion of resources is a looming threat.
In this context, “Holiday Palaces” puts the spotlight on Norway’s consumption habits, particularly in regard to opulent mountain cabins, and the skewed notion of luxury perpetuated by media and advertising. In doing so, Neighboring Sounds is not advocating for asceticism but encouraging thoughtful lifestyle choices that can lead to sustainable living without compromising on the quality of life. In fact, they assert that the true luxuries in life are often the simplest – the joy of home cooking or the thrill of foraging in the city and forest.
“Holiday Palaces” is more than a pulsating rhythm – it is a critique of unchecked consumption and a plea for sustainability, a stark contrast that effectively underlines the socio-environmental ethos of Neighboring Sounds.
While self-reflection is central to their music, the band also advocates for systemic change. They believe that the onus of enabling sustainable living should be on the state, not the individual. Their songs, they hope, could be a catalyst for such transformative discussions.
But the world of Neighboring Sounds extends beyond their own music. In an exclusive interaction, they recommended several artists, including Flight Mode, Weight, Spielberg’s, and Killer Kid Mozart, further demonstrating their appreciation for the wide spectrum of the music scene. Particularly noteworthy is their hope for a possible reunion of the band Amulet and their admiration for vocalist Torgny’s version of the Jesse (Frankie Stubbs) song “As my mind closed, yours was opening”.
In Neighboring Sounds’ philosophy, sustainable living isn’t merely about individual choices but also about systemic changes: “It is the state that will make it possible for us to consume less and contribute to us being able to live sustainable lives.”
Illustrating their eclectic taste, they shared a curated playlist with us that includes an array of diverse influences, from the Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou to early ’90s British shoegaze.
Neighboring Sounds is more than a band; it is a social critique, a call to reflection, a conduit of eclectic musical influences, and a promoter of sustainable lifestyles.
With “Cold in the Smart City” set for release later this year, listeners can look forward to a harmonious blend of music and meaning, further cementing their place in the landscape of contemporary music. A careful synthesis of introspective lyrics, evocative melodies, and socially conscious themes, Neighboring Sounds’ forthcoming album promises to engage listeners in a thoughtful dialogue about our place in the world – an urgent conversation underscored by the power of music. As we anticipate this release, we are reminded once again of music’s unique capacity to provide a platform for both personal expression and collective exploration.
Guided by their distinct vision, the band invites us to reconsider our habits and assumptions, to listen and engage with our world more conscientiously. The dedication and thoughtful craft displayed by Neighboring Sounds in their upcoming album, as well as their broader commitment to sustainable living and vibrant music scene, reinforce their position as a compelling voice in the world of modern music.
“Cold in the Smart City” is not merely an LP to be listened to, but a challenge to the listener to become a participant in the pressing issues of our time.