Frigg: Economy Class reviewed
This week's selection for Clutter Control (a series arbitrarily reviewing CDs from the stacks of albums lying around our office) is Frigg's Economy Class. It was wedged behind some books in our A-List Editor's office. She dug it out for me at my request for "something funny, or at least weird." Weird describes the Cheetos clouds on the cover pretty well--we'll see if the music itself is similar.
From the name of the band (a reference to a Norse goddess), I'm expecting bloopy techno music produced by pasty Europeans. Investigation of the jacket's innards reveals that I was half right--Frigg is produced by perhaps the pastiest of Europeans: Finns. Some of these Finns are so pale, in fact, that you can see their organs through their skin. But they make music with violins, mandolins, trumpets, and the such, not synthesizers.
Frigg's a sort of Euro-bluegrass, with swirling fiddles and guitars and a folky sound: good dance music if your idea of dancing is stomping in your shit-kickers. I recommend that on your first listen you pump the volume, grab your honey, and polka about the room several times (substitute two-step for polka if you're out of shape).
But at times, Frigg sounds a bit like gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello, only with almost all the punk removed--leaving in just enough to make you wish for more. There's something in the lack of...rock 'n' roll, for lack of a better word, that's bothersome. Some of the tracks end up sounding like a Nordfolk version of virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani, just noodling about in their complex chord structures and weird minor keys without any direction.
That said, there's a lot worse world music out there, and Frigg is pretty enjoyable for what it is.
The Low Point
The fourth track, "When the Time Comes I'll Be Ready," is the only slow song on the album, and it is made of highly refined fail. Dreary, tedious, and fraught with squeaky violin high notes, it has all the appeal of sitting next to a screaming child for four minutes.
Frigg should sing more. Both tracks that feature vocals, "Viinalaulu" and "Lars Lenkelifot," are pretty awesome. They harmonize well, and it adds a playful quality from which some of the other tracks could benefit.
The first track, "Jalla Jalla," features jaw harp, an instrument that takes maybe a little more skill than the kazoo. I enjoy such a simple instrument played by a band that so clearly takes its musicality very seriously, and it does blend well with the rest of the piece.
How Much Should You Pay?