Magnus Bechmann – Uneasy Pt. 1 [EP Review]

Uneasy Pt. 1 is the taster for Magnus Bechmann’s (as yet untitled) full-length LP, coming out later this year. It’s sparkling with ideas, enjoyable indie-pop tunes, and some decent songwriting too. After a string of singles and EPs, this young Norwegian talent is starting to come through with his own voice and define his sound. Uneasy Pt. 1 is a quick peek at Bechmann’s future potential.

Smile is the latest single, the climactic centrepiece of this EP. Eschewing the ambivalent melancholia of the rest – this is a full-blown ballad. The choruses aren’t quite in the realm of “catchy”, but by the end of the song, it’s anthemic enough to be an arms-in-the-air moment. Smile is a lovelorn ode to what could have been or what might still be. Bechmann laments “I guess I need my friend again/The only way I see this happening is if I make you smile”, which is beautifully sad; a lyrical shrug of the shoulders to pick yourself up and try again.

For all the effects-laden instrumentation, it’s the live drums that stand out on Uneasy. What Do You Know introduces the EP with an immediate energetic beat, and is neatly representative of the project as a whole. The distorted vocals keep everything on a level; without them it would be too saccharine. It’s catchy, but also with a lot going on in the mix. This is balanced out nicely by the production and brings a tapestry of sounds which rewards multiple listens.

The top pick on Uneasy Pt. 1 is In The Clouds, with its clearer tone and lucid vocal take. The fuzzy headrush of the first couple of tracks opens up to a rolling bassline, which carries the verses along smoothly. From there it’s that easy mix of pounding drums and glittery indie-pop which makes this EP instantly accessible. The songs are elevated by the four-on-floor beats, and the energy pervades throughout.

The main strength of Uneasy Pt. 1 is that the songs are able to express so much in their short runtime. That initial enjoyment, the recognition of the head-nodding beats and the simple melodies eventually gives way to an appreciation of the deeper themes in the music on repeated listens. That makes this collection a breeze to digest, something you can get into straight away but still come back to with it sounding fresh.

Of course, that leads to the question of the forthcoming LP, and whether Bechmann can keep this up for three quarters of an hour. There’s not enough stylistic variety on Uneasy Pt. 1 to do that, and how much that will drag on an album is the big question here. It’s clear that Bechmann has done most of the music by himself, so perhaps a couple more hands on deck would give this the lift it needs to truly cement as an accomplished project.

For now though, he provides us with 17 minutes of genuine, accessible music. There are plenty of good moments, and a couple of questionable tracks but when he does it right, Bechmann’s quirky ambivalence is really fun to listen to.

Listen to Uneasy Pt. 1 on Scandinavian label Sailor Music

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