This four-piece band was formed around the Svensson siblings, Emma, Johanna and Jakob. Johanna (aged 18) plays the keyboard, bass, harmonica and melodica, and provides magnificent lead vocals. Her younger brother Jakob (aged 15) plays the violin and harmonica, and acts as lead guitarist to this musical foursome. The rest of the band is made up by the two Svensson sister’s boyfriends, Leo Hiselius and Elvin Norlen. Leo plays the guitar and bass while Elvin plays the keyboard and acts as percussionist. Emma’s place in the collective is as an aspiring film maker who helped to both edit and direct, along with her partner Elvin, the stunning music video which was released with their debut single, Spring’s March, last September.
I can remember the precise moment I began loving this song. It came 40 seconds into the track when lead vocalist Johanna Svensson came in with her sharp melody. Her voice is piercing, but I mean this in a good way as it chimes high above the rhythmic chomp of the song’s beat. Supported with backing vocals from the rest of the band, she begins the song in a monotone voice but then bursts forth with a bright and vibrant solo exclamation that “Spring is marching in”. She adds a sincere sense of upper pitched vigour to a low, thumping, drum and clap led beat. The tune is sweet and sentimental but driven by a strong rhythmic undercurrent that acts to juxtapose, thus adding impact to, Johanna’s singing. This works to deliver a formidably crafted song that I find invigorating.
The song breaks into a brief lull towards the end. This pause slows the tempo and allows a moment of hesitant anticipation as Johanna leads an ethereal descant which eventually fades into the muffled melody of guitar, bass and melodica. However, swiftly the harmony starts to gain volume, accompanied by a rising white noise which all culminates in a pronounced stillness. Quite suddenly, the entire piece is brought crashing back with the return, in force, of the thundering rhythm and rousing vocals. It is difficult not to be completely enveloped by this moment as every element of the track thumps and pumps to put a smile on your face.
On top of this, the lyrics themselves produce a cheerful image. They paint a picture of the transition of seasons from Winter to Spring. It seems to capture the re-ignition of life into the world as the vestiges of the harsh cold peel back and allow for new life to spring forth. This life is all inclusive as even “Tired tyres in a pile / One was waking up / Rolling down the hill alone”. The title of the song, “Spring’s March” is true to its name with the song’s formidable rhythm. Strong though it is, it allows for the delicacy and homely tune of Johanna’s vocals to be the stirring touch for the listener. This gives the march a sense of celebration; a march to a joyous victory well deserved.
It is also clear that the group’s talents do not stop at music. This single comes complete with a brilliant music video which accompanies the song to perfection. Directed by Emma and Elvin, it has the feel of ’67; like a Swedish Summer of Love. The video plots a day. We watch four characters wake up and meet for a cruise around town in a beautiful black Pontiac. This tour of Enskede Gård, the band’s neighbourhood near central Stockholm, leads the gang to a public football pitch where they meet their friends. Everyone is enjoying themselves in the sunshine, laughing and cavorting; not a frown in sight. Leaving this, the foursome embark on a night about town which consists of simply walking around, laughing, drinking and smoking until the sun comes up. The coming of age feel to the story comes with the subtle emphasis put on adult themes.
The cast, main and supporting, are clearly teenagers from younger to older yet a brilliantly delicate weight is added to them drinking and smoking and staring into the eyes of one another. It gives the young cast a sense of maturity which is easy to be caught up in. It is only at the end of the piece when we follow one of the four home to be greeted by a sullen mother who gives her the “where have you been all night?” look we’ve all had. Despite this, the video presents the day’s events as so full of life and love that we cannot see it as anything other than positive; like the social rebellion of ’67 presented as a day in the life of four young people.
Havsögd, which can loosely be translated from Swedish to mean ‘Sea – Eyed’, have only “set sail very recently” as band member Elvin Norlén put it. This said they have “just finishing composing several new tracks and will be re-entering the studio within the next few weeks. (We) can probably look forward to an EP sometime this spring”. To go with this good news, Elvin also informed me of a previous musical venture led by Johanna called Walking Talking Jesus. If you have any love for Havsögd and you can’t wait till spring, then I would recommend you giving them a listen as well.
As their only release, Spring’s March acts as a tantalising teaser for whatever is to come from this very talented collective, and I look forward to hearing more.