❉ Ange Chan reviews the second album from the Swedish synth trio MORE.
“We already knew when we were in the final stage of mixing our last album which direction we wanted to go with Appraisal. We wanted a dark and more moody tone, a vision all three of us feel we accomplished with this album.
For me personally, Appraisal is a very honest and naked album. Life is not always a walk in the park and within the dark undertones, there are light and hope. The story is equally told both in the instrumentals as well as in the lyrics and the album art ties the theme together. We couldn’t be prouder of what we have created together”. – Magnus Dahlberg (vocals)
Appraisal is the second full length album and the tenth digital release by the Swedish synth trio MORE. During 2021, managing difficult times trying to balance life during various lockdowns during the pandemic, the band spent all of their creative time on writing the follow-up album to the 2020 debut album From the Past.
The new album, Appraisal, gives the listeners a journey through a year-long struggle between hopelessness, despair and commitment. The over-arching theme of the album asks the question, ”Does love conquer all, even in dark times?”
Appraisal contains eleven tracks including three tracks which were previously released as singles during 2021; Provoked by Motions, Self Control and Blind (Lead the Blind)
Starting with Waterfall (Time in an Uproar), it is a strong opener for the band’s second album and gives an instant flavour of the MORE blueprint sound that we have come to know and love. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a constant melodic beat reminiscent of Depeche Mode but with MORE’s Swedish competence, both lyrically and musically.
Track 2 is The Trial in which the tempo is more upbeat and consequentially, danceable. Lyrically it talks about how ‘everything goes on trial in the town of love’, which underlines the overall theme of the album, questioning if true love is, actually unconditional. Provoked by Motions takes the beat down a notch or two, and was one of the three singles released last year, to critical acclaim. Although downbeat in its lyrical content, the musical element has a positive stance through its melody.
In contrast, Thread of Hope is reflective of its title and has a strong drum beat and a more positive sensibility overall. It’s a welcome punctuation to the overall theme of the album, lyrically challenging the despair and offer a thread of hope, despite seemingly dire circumstances.
Blind (Lead the Blind) was another single from last year which was particularly well received within the synth scene, receiving radio play in all the usual places. Its melancholic tone with funky back beat offers a figurative juxtaposition between the hope and despair reflected in the lyrical content.
Meanwhile Self Control, another single release, is the most Depeche Mode influenced song on this album, circa the Black Celebration. This is also probably my favourite song on the album. I say ‘probably’ because this album is, yet again, the proverbial ‘all killer, no filler’. My love for this band is well documented; their lyrics and melodies are second to none in my humble opinion, and I was particularly thrilled that the band gave We Are Cult the exclusive first review for their second album, for which I would like to offer here sincere gratitude.
About Last Night is a conversation that most people who have experienced the trials of love will have had at some point in their lifetimes. Filled with explanations and regrets, offering hope and positivity which sometimes resolves matters and sometimes makes things worse. Show Me continues the theme reflecting the opportunity for resolving differences and making things better. Filled with emotion and positive hope for the future, stating “we can be more than this”.
Appraisal‘s title track offers heavier background synths in its opening, whilst quoting the line “the devil is in the detail”, indicating the cold light of day reality when you’ve tried talking, and pleading for another chance, but realising that the relationship could actually be over. Is this the beginning of the end, or offering new hope for a different kind of life? The simple unaccompanied piano notes at the end suggesting either option could be viable.
Shine in the Dark offers the answer to the lingering question, giving a positive stance for the future whichever form that may take, in which the lyrics value new-found love and self-love countering the position within the relationship, seeking out the qualities that attracted one to the other and attempting to overcome the differences between. Musically there’s a hopefulness to the song, lifting previous darker vibes and presenting a lighter, less sad feel.
The final track on the album, The Ballad of a Blue Day, continues in the more realistic and hopeful vein. “Behind the darkest sky, there’s room for you and I”, sings Magnus, with a renewed sense of hope between the protagonists, leaving the album a million miles away from where it started.
It truly feels like a complete album, which is somewhat of a rarity these days. Most albums are just a collection of songs, but Appraisal takes you on an emotional journey where you question your own feelings and relationships and try to learn from the hope and positivity that’s presented in the various songs.
❉ ‘Appraisal’ by MORE releases March 11, 2022 on most digital streaming platforms. Click here to Pre-order Digital Album (Streaming + Download) via Bandcamp: You get 3 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
❉ Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. A prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and lifelong lover of music, Ange is also We Are Cult’s Social Media Administrator.