Ai Phoenix – Lean that way forever + The driver is dead

Ai Phoenix are from Norway, a big country, with not too many people living in it. Maybe that is the reason why these songs sound so desolated. They started playing together in 1997, and their first self released cd “film” was released in 1998. They where picked up by the Oslo based label Dbut, who re-released their cd. In 2000 two more albums get released by the Norwegian label Racing Junior, a 10″ EP called “happy to get her”, and a cd called “The driver is dead”. In 2002 their cd “Lean that way forever” was released by both Racing Junior and Glitterhouse, shortly followed by the re-release of “The driver is dead” on Glitterhouse.

So what is their music all about? It’s sadness and melancholy in it’s purest form. It’s quiet, slow, and it will get to you directly, leaving you without any defence. Maybe it’s the gorgeous voice of Mona, who sings in an almost whispering style. If she would be the sister of Stuart Staples of Tindersticks, I wouldn’t be surprised. She is accompanied by soft guitars and drumming, pump organs, and other whispering instruments.

“The Driver is dead” is the darkest album of the two. Mona does (almost) all the vocals. The album never gets happy or uplifting. Mona’s voice is so full of sadness and melancholy, it at times almost hurts to listen to her whispering. The lyrics fit in perfectly like on the amazing Volga beach hotel, where Mona sings:”I sing you a love song, you don’t have to come along. We dont have to get along. You may think of anyone. I think of someone.” The cd has an atmosphere of total desperation and desolation over it.

“Lean that way forever” seems to be more uplifting at times, though melancholy and sadness still are the dominant moods in the songs. A big difference is that Patrick now sings in several songs too. His voice works fine together with Mona’s voice, but at times when he sings alone, the mood of the music changes. But a great cd anyway, with some absolute amazing songs on it, like the haunting “the story teller”.

Ai Phoenix is one of the most amazing late night pop bands, comparable to Mazzy Star, Tindersticks on their second album, Whip/Timesbold, or Cat Power. Beautiful small sad songs for melancholic people. All suckers for melancholy should do themselves a favor and get some of Ai Phoenix music.

Worth noting is that “The driver is dead” will be re-released for the american markt this fall by Autonomy Records. The end of August will also be the time that there will be a forth full-length album by Ai phoenix on Racing Junior and Glitterhouse. Also a tour through Germany and Norway is planned.

artist: Ai Phoenix
label: Glitterhouse