On August 25, Stars in Coma released Escapist Partisans, while Defunct Summer will see the light of day on September 22. Comprising 10 songs each, the sister albums were recorded simultaneously between 2014 and 2017, but vary in tonality and theme.
Both albums will be out on limited edition cassette and digitally. Pre-order now at starsincoma.bandcamp.com!
As André Brorsson releases two new Stars in Coma albums this fall, he does so in an era when music is seldom experienced more than one or two tracks at a time. Playlists have given way to tracklists, and rarely is there time to take part of an artist’s holistic vision.
With Escapist Partisans and Defunct Summer, however, Stars in Coma has managed to create an all-encompassing framework that is bigger than the sum of its parts. We are invited to join in on a tumultuous journey from the realms of introspection and stream of consciousness (Escapist Partisans), to a place of outward outrage at the prevailing societal climate (Defunct Summer).
Musically, as well as lyrically, Escapist Partisans is a strikingly introspective project. People who are already familiar with André’s music know that his sense for melody never dwindles – few songwriters are as talented when it comes to composing dark hooks in the key of minor (take a listen to ”Subtraction Exercises” for example) – but on this album, the atmospheric soundscapes, the impulsive chord sequences, and the sharp twists and turns are explored at an even deeper level than ever before.
It’s like stepping aboard a meandering tour of the protagonist’s subliminal house of mirrors, in which a new, often times distorted, reflection of the mind appears behind every corner. Daniel Örtegren’s strong saxophone efforts, such as in "Ten Years", create associations to the musical theme of Taxi Driver, during which the audience follows Travis Bickle’s slow mental demise against the backdrop of a New York City in atrophy.
"I do not know what I'm writing about, but it seems to be about my selfish struggle," Andre laments in "The Victorian Sinkhole." It's about irrepressible inner voices, a narcissistic game that more often than not escalates into claustrophobia inside the subject’s head. As we approach the last track on the album, "Chalet Saudade", there’s a sudden turn, however: "I woke up to a harsh reality, not to all those stories you told me a long time ago." An awakening from the mental chaos takes place, as our hero’s gaze suddenly turns away from the psychotic – towards a society that can no longer be ignored.
Enter Defunct Summer. There is a harsh reality to come to terms with, as André observes in "This Damn Reminder," a commentary on the border controls introduced over the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Unlike the dreamy haze of Escapist Partisans, resignation is no more. Confusion and anxiety are no longer the prevalent moods, but rather determination and the desire to act. A recharged fighting spirit and a newfound sense of hope blossoms, often accompanied (and contrasted) by the romantic and calming soundscape of cellos, violins and flutes. And though the rosiness might not be anchored in reality, "the illusion of hope is good enough for now," André sings on the final track, "Libertate Unanimus."
With these twin albums, Stars in Coma has achieved more than just a playlist of indie pop songs. It's a musical journey from dark to light, from minor to major, where the twists are abrupt, the nuances plenty – and the end result magnificent!