Danish trio New Politics has managed to cultivate a slowly growing fanbase through a strange thicket of sources. The success of their single, “Harlem”, supporting slots with Fall Out Boy and 30 Seconds to Mars, as well as the band’s array of influences that range from the poppy, to the rocky, to the hip-hoppy, have all boded well for the band. Establishing themselves through quick, high-energy songs and albums, the band has been looking to focus their sound and consolidate a devoted fanbase to bring themselves further up the ladder. Their third effort, Vikings, sees the group making another musical shift to achieve these objectives. We find the band trying to balance poppy and rambunctious, with the results fun, yet uneven.
For old fans of the group, Vikings won’t be anything terribly different than what the band has done in the past. Less aggressive than the self-titled release, and more aggressive than A Bad Girl in Harlem, this record is the mix of indie, electronic, power pop, and a dusting of hip-hop that the band has grown comfortable with time and time again. Vocalist David Boyd is comfortable in a melodic and yelling mood, as the songs do the same. Youthful in spirit and attitude, the record is a fun listen, with little downtime or softness. It’s a short set of party-friendly tunes about sex, youth and love (sometimes).
The vibe of this record is seemingly restless, as it doesn’t take a great deal of time to pick up and settle down, jumping straight into the heavy lead single “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens)”. While it has an awkward song structure and the jutting “everywhere I go!” yell is the only thing that will resonate, the opener isn’t a thesis statement for the record, it’s just another New Politics song. Aside from that, things are what you’d expect from the band, song in and song out. Another single, “West End Kids”, gives off a very “night out” vibe, one that reminds you of driving through the streets of a city. While takes like “Pretend We’re In a Movie”, “Stardust” and “Lovers In a Song” slow things down in romantic, wistful, and mischievous ways, respectively, the record is filled with energy. The power pop punch of “Girl Crush” and “Loyalties Amongst Thieves” fits well with the chant along vibes of “50 Feet Tall” and the Fall Out Boy-esque “Aristocrat”.
There isn’t a terrible amount of lyrical depth on the record, as the band seems to sing about a pretty thin set of subjects. Considering their goals, it isn’t really expected that the band write us poetry for the ages, as all we get is a set of feel-good party jams. Things stay pretty light and passive throughout, and there isn’t really anything to commend in the creativity department. New Politics does a good job in their pursuit of nice, fan-friendly, alterna-power-indie rock-pop whatever. They don’t push the envelope as much as they just sort of give it another place to go. The band reinforces how they can be listenable without doing anything groundbreaking or amazing.
In some respects, this album begs the question as to why it was put forth in the first place. New Politics do a good job here, but it’s not like Vikings has a definitive single that can help the band move forward, or any creative leaps that set them apart from the other alternative bands that don’t fit neatly into one category. It’s tough to find the next “Harlem” here, much less anything that can compel a passive fan beyond mere enjoyment. While the array of influences are a little tighter and less hyperactive, Vikings isn’t as captivating as it could be with its greater focus. The album fits well in the pocket of a passive fan looking for something to fill the air, however, don’t expect Vikings to be anything beyond a nice listen here and there, as it isn’t nearly deep or consistent enough to drive listeners to anything beyond passive enjoyment.