Sólveig Matthildur, synth legend for Icelandic Darkwave pioneers Kælan Mikla, is a troubadour of the keys. Winning accolade upon award for her debut solo album Unexplained Miseries & the Acceptance of Sorrow (Self-Released), second full-length Constantly In Love (Artoffact Records) aims to build on that emotional heart with an added sense of frost-bitten drama, an ill-fated love story articulating emotion from both protagonists.
Icicle gunshots permeate the opening, Torche-flavoured title track, beautiful 1980s synth coated in lavish atmospherics and dark growls. Matthildur’s vocal remains deep and challenging through the following ‘My Desperation’, a haunting power ebbing and flowing around those ghostly airs and slicing beats like a dead lament given a fake pulse. ‘Your Desperation’ is more assured, swapping the lust for a buzzing critique, an edginess that sees the insouciant demeanour of Kraftwerk marry Depeche Mode‘s dystopian view of human frailty.
‘Tómas’ fires the indigenous humanity of Matthildur’s parent outfit with a bleeding personality seemingly trying to detach itself from reality. The combination of styles, of expression, the bland of delicate and stark effusion, give a level of artificial intelligence that can only prepare for the sparing, brutal pulses. These, however, given a lovely undercurrent to the emotional swells of the ensuing ‘My Father Taught Me How To Cry’, the cries of belief giving manufactured sounds a meaning beyond understanding.
‘Constantly Heartbroken’ is a soaring piece, it’s coldness cutting, yet there’s a connection missing from the desolation expected with such a title. Similarly, ‘Dystopian Boy’ doesn’t have the piercing shimmer the title and form would suggest: instead of embracing a jangling ratatouille giving hope to the darkness rather than screaming forth a broken nihilism. It’s something ‘Dystopian Boy’ delivers in spades, a Cocteau Twins-esque mantra rubbing a subdued angst against a motorised pathology akin to Duran Duran‘s ‘The Chauffeur: dirty yet pleading, detached yet wanting to belong.
Somewhat expectedly, the penultimate ‘I’m OK’ is the most involving track of the album: the immediate aftermath of a break-up and the ensuing false bravado, the ‘Crime and Punishment’ desolation of London Grammar meeting a metallic yet believable lack of faith in the future, a need for knowledge that all will be good in time. Aptly-titled closer ‘The End’ seems to deliver this, a cosmic sound given a melancholic euphoria by Matthildur’s soaring, plaintive vocal and kaleidoscopic chords, giving hope of a rebirth from death.
A sparkling, clashing enigma of Electronica, Constantly In Love is a progression for Sólveig Matthildur: an inventive, linked conflict of thoughts and emotions that is delivered in such harrowing yet beautiful fashion that it’s hard not to fall for. With it, she has confirmed her status as an influencing artist in her own right.
7 / 10