Writer: Mai Hiura Henriksen
Icelandic/Danish folk artist, Snævar Njáll Albertsson, is ready with a new album under the alias Dad Rocks!. Year of the Flesh is released the 3rd of April 2014 under his own record label Father Figure Records. It has been three years since his last album, 2011’s Mount Modern, so we have been thrilled to hear what he has for us this time.
In mid-March, Albertsson published the first single, Peers, which references the whole digitalization of music, streaming culture, and how it influences modern bands’ existence. The predominant problematic of Pirate Bay, torrents, and technological music-sharing is insecure for a band, since it might disappear without the sufficient resources it needs to carry on. At the same time, Albertsson reminds his fans that bands need their support – not only financially, but also to demonstrate that with the new technological possibilities, it is becoming easier for everyone to take action in other people’s lives under a mutual and shared culture. The whole album is licensed under Creative Commons, which provides a less tight setting, and allows people to access, share and remix his songs. People can inspire each other, and Albertsson invites everyone to “borrow” from other people to develop something potentially beautiful. This form of trust in his fans is something other bands definitely can learn and benefit from.
The rest of the album follows this type of critical thinking about modern society along with anecdotes from family affairs. It is clear that his main source of inspiration comes from his children, both in lyrics and sound – his musical source of inspiration could have been lullabies.
Songs such as Daughter Track, Cyber Bullies, and Waves stresses the difficulties that follow in being both a parent and a kid. A daughter who can’t quite figure it out, a father who is worried sick, parents who want to give their children everything they need but have different ideas of what those things are – are all some things most families have issues with. For example in Waves, Albertsson sings: These dolls are all wearing mini-skirts, fishnet stockings and see-through shirts // was the toy-maker a pervert // Dad wants to do good deeds including buying his daughter everything she needs // Eventually Dad will concede. Furthermore, he brings up the industry and media and their ideas of what is right and wrong, such as body images and what it does to children growing up under these influences, and questions the common good in this type of lifestyle. The same goes for the last song, Body Mass Index, which in a way is a deeply depressing song but provides food for thought.
The songs Managed, In the Seine, and White Collar questions real happiness, and the problematic that comes along in being a parent – you need to work hard to give your children everything they want, but end up never seeing them because you’re stuck at work. What is more important? Is having your own car and drowning in whisky at Saint Barths on your holidays really something you need? These witty comments about modern lifestyles is something Albertsson rarely goes without. He dreams about the countryside and quitting metropolis life, but can’t figure out what is best for himself and his family.
The sound of the album is very grand and lush, with complex instrumentals including guitars, pianos, trumpets, violins, an entire brass band and a girls’ choir. However, it is very direct, relatable, and down to earth when it comes to the lyrics – which is a relief, because sometimes it can get tiring to analyze pretentious texts that you think you understand. Refreshing and immediate are the synonyms of Year of the Flesh. It is a reflection of the world and its conditions, and what it will ultimately mean for his children.
All in all, it is a very interactive album, as it has over 50 collaborators and invites fans to make their own versions of the songs. Dad Rocks! does not quite sound like any other bands, but the songs could individually express more distinction – some of them sound quite alike, but it makes the album entirely coherent.
His official release show will take place the 3rd of April at Radar in Aarhus, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that he will drag a 10-man band along to play with him. I can warmly recommend the concert, the album, and to take part in this inspiring project.