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Music Review: Danophone – ‘Rerun’

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Danophone 'Rerun'Aalborg, Denmark-based Danophone released in December 2016 a pop-rock album titled Rerun. Carsten Nielsen (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone), Bertil Bille (drums, cajon, percussion), and Tino Pedersen (background vocals, guitar, bass) have put together 11 tracks that explore various facets of melancholy and regret. And while one might think an album focusing on such emotions would be dark and dreary, the trio’s work is, at the end of the day, an uplifting look into some of the things that hold us back.

The album reeks of the kind of honesty that a person stuck in a cycle of repeating mistakes needs to hear to be able to choose hope instead of despair. If everyone in Denmark thinks about mistakes in the same way as this trio does, no wonder it is the happiest country in the world; its inhabitants deal with their emotions and break negative cycles through honest introspection rather than letting things fester.

The courage, time, and patience it takes to go through such a process seems embodied in the contrast between melody and lyrics. In “Frightened For,” the acoustic guitar and vocals create a seemingly cheerful and relaxed mood in what might come off as an uplifting alternative rock ballad. The lyrics however convey a sense of helplessness and even apathy: “No need to talk/Can’t be undone/It’s not your fight/When it can’t be won.” Danophone seems to believe in the power of choosing to be upbeat despite the weight of the challenge.

The band even casts shadows on concepts usually thought of as positive, such as it does with compromise in “Meet in the Middle.” This can come as a surprise, as compromise is often identified as the hallmark of a healthy relationship, romantic or other. One can’t hold it against him that Nielson sounds so discouraged in his delivery of lyrics such as: “If we meet in the middle/We’re still only halfway there/If we meet in the middle/Is it happier than here?” But yet again, Danophone seems to be encouraging us to choose to deal with this complex and thorny issue by wrapping lyrics and vocals in a gentle, soothing melody, seemingly to give listeners a comfortable space to deal with it.

“Copenhagen Club” is yet another interesting study of the contrast between an outside cheerfulness and an interior darkness. With the way it begins, slow and restrained, and the topic of a big crowd enjoying a great party, one expects a build-up in the melody and vocals. Danophone chooses not to deliver on this expectation, as if reflecting the dissatisfaction of a lonely heart even as it’s partying with hundreds of others.

Some of the songs on this album are a little more straightforward. The country-flavoured “Nation of Two” is relaxing and soothing, the perfect soundtrack to an end of evening deep chat between two close individuals. The slow and pensive “Arrested” touches on the regret of having lost contact with a friend and the hope of finding him again. All in all, Rerun is a personal and intimate album from Danophone that might serve as much-needed therapy in light of world events. More information about the band and its music is available on its website and Facebook page. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud.

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