Hopeajärvi- Hopeajärvi

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, June 24, 2013

I’ve become convinced over the past few months that Finland has some of the coolest bands around. Seriously, if my entire music collection got destroyed somehow and I was left with just the back catalogs of Svart and Ektro Records, I think I’d manage just fine. Ektro’s latest pick up is Hopeajärvi, a band that has only been around for a few years and put together their self-titled debut for release in July. Let’s take a look at what the label has to say about it:

“HOPEAJÄRVI is an eight-legged marvel, a symmetrical creature rigged from a piano string, dancing asymmetrically across the highest of high-wires. Imagine Trumans Water and the young Esa Saarinen inhabiting one lyrical whole, laced with meat-counter philology, and then douse it all with a criminally deceptive tunefulness: this is the sound of HOPEAJÄRVI’s self-titled debut album. But that only tells half the story; the other half is yet to be written. As the record plays out and its seven tracks worm their way into the listener’s skittering memory, new phantasms will elicit old feelings: post-post-punk. As rest of the world still tries to carry on with its chores, the work of HOPEAJÄRVI will offer a burning overview on everything else…and they shall be dancing in the streets – symmetrically and asymmetrically, expectedly and unexpectedly, like nothing you’ve heard before and everything you’ve forgotten.”

Well, shit, that doesn’t help much does it? Who knows what the hell post-post-punk is even supposed to mean in this context. But what I do know is that these guys write fast rock songs that have hints of post punk, noise rock, and even just some straight up rock ‘n roll. Rather than going for extended improvisation like some of the bands of this type, Hopeajärvi works in the occasional burst of noisy distortion or slightly off-kilter moment into a quick two to three minute run time. It’s an interesting mix, because the core of many of these songs are well written rock hooks that have a bit of a pop edge to them. Seriously, listen to the bouncy riff of “Kuoppa” and I bet you’ll have a hard time not wanting to just start moving around to the rhythm. Take these catchy, relatively simple hooks and throw in the occasional noisier or just plain weird moment and that about sums up what this album has to offer. Hopeajärvi’s material is hard to slap a particular genre tag on due to this multi-faceted approach, so I just prefer to think of it as a disc of catchy high energy rock that’s a little pop oriented one moment and plain weird and noisy the next. I actually wish there was more of it, as the seven songs are over in twenty one minutes and I’m curious what the instrumentalists could have pulled off on a slightly longer effort.

As a listener that doesn’t speak Finnish, I can’t really speak to whether the paragraph I quoted above is just a masturbatory description or not since I have no clue what is being sung and digital promos don’t tend to come with lyrics anyway. But that doesn’t really matter, because the vocal performance is strong enough that it caught my attention immediately. Hopeajärvi’s lead singer has this type of higher pitch that just continually feeds off the energy of the instrumental arrangements. He hops between these more boisterous, in your face vocal lines and slightly more subdued ones, and this works really well alongside the group’s pop hooks and noisier edges. I also really like the fact that the vocals are one of the most prominent elements of the recording, standing tall above the instrumentals, but they don’t completely overpower everything else and you’re able to focus on all of the elements of the band’s material equally. Admittedly I’m the type of person that tends to hone in on how a group sounds rather than what they’re singing about, so the fact that the singing was downright infectious at times was more than enough to keep me coming back.

Hopeajärvi delivers catchy rock ‘n roll with pop oriented hooks that seem deceptively simple at first, but there’s always a surprise burst of noise or a quirkier edge at work here that make these tracks have a different feel from your average band. It’s a shame this album isn’t a bit longer as I’d love to hear more of this, but I can’t deny that these seven tracks have already gotten plenty of spins from me. Once again another Finnish band has won me over, and hopefully these guys continue to experiment and try new things as they continue onward.


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