The return of Sweden’s cinematic pop perfectionists…
Based in Stockholm, THE SOUND OF ARROWS are an electronic music duo consisting of Oskar Gullstrand and Stefan Storm who have crafted their own very distinctive style of widescreen synthpop since 2006.
Since the release of their debut album Voyage in 2011, the pair have been relatively inactive. But as perfectionists, The Sound Of Arrows like to take their time on music. “Most of the bands we really rate, they don’t make music on a conveyor belt – it’s more about when they’re ready and when they have something to present. It just took time to get right.”
‘Beautiful Life’, which is released today on the band’s own Skies Above record label, marks the return of the Swedish synthpop outfit. The song continues the electronic duo’s talent for cinematic pop, but there’s also a more organic element with big string arrangements prominent in the mix. “Turn up the music and bring down the rain” suggests the dreampop lyrics atop subtle synth rhythms. Meanwhile, the track is given plenty of epic sweeps courtesy of the strings section.
The Sound Of Arrows story originally kicked into gear with the release of the Danger! EP back in 2008. But it was 2009’s ‘Into The Clouds’ that put them on the map. It became one of the UK’s most downloaded songs for the week it was released, its appeal drawn from the synth melodies and washes of sound that typified The Sound Of Arrows approach.
Plans for an album soon followed, but the pair discovered that their sound was constantly evolving, which meant that they ended up dumping the first two album efforts. Although they managed to complete the third incarnation of the album (which became Voyage), issues with their then-label Geffen saw the album locked up for a year. When Geffen folded, the boys took the initiative and released Voyage themselves. This actually proved to be fortuitous as they could spend longer fine-tuning the album and also put back songs that Geffen hadn’t liked at the time.
Voyage presented a confident debut album for any electronic act. Just about every track has that combo of both “Big pop melodies wrapped in big, epic washes” and “melancholic euphoria” that the band described their sound as. It’s not surprising that the duo have listed outfits such as Vangelis and OMD as inspirations. From the electropop dramatics of ‘Conquest’ and the euphoric exuberance of ‘Wonders’, Voyage is a masterpiece of an album that still sounds fresh and exciting today.
Plans for a follow-up to Voyage were being looked at almost directly after the release of their debut album. Instead, Stefan Storm went off on a slightly different direction originally with Kids Of The Apocalypse, a project that kept the big sound of the Arrows, but drew on inspiration that included everything from Massive Attack, M83 and Gorillaz.
Although an announcement for a possible follow-up was announced in 2015, we’ve had to wait slightly longer for our next journey into the magical world of The Sound Of Arrows. But the duo are keen to get back into action. “We wanted to open the windows and let in some fresh air on this album,” explains Storm. “It’s less conceptual than our debut Voyage and a little more about us having two feet on the ground and maybe gazing up at the sky, rather than floating up in space this time.”
A release party took place in Stockholm on Thursday night in which the song was premiered in a live performance – complete with a string section.
‘Beautiful Life’ provides an intriguing window into the evolution of the outfit’s sound from the more obvious electronica of Voyage’s material. At the same time it’s indicative of the way that Gullstrand and Storm like to evolve their sound.
‘Beautiful Life’ is out today via Skies Above.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.