As the Green Man festival came to a close, the rain had returned, Tindersticks had helped to erase the memory of Mumford and most people had donned their waterproofs and pitched up at the main stage for Joanna Newsom. There were still a select few of us wise enough to be tucked away in a tent, watching Efterklang provide one of the performances of the weekend. At one point, a seemingly rather well refreshed chap dressed as Batman leapt on the stage and was embraced by the band, keeping him on stage for the entire song as he whipped the crowd up into a state of rapture. It was a magical way to round out a distressingly damp weekend and, as we shuffled out through the Newsom masses, I knew ‘Magic Chairs’ was going to receive rather more attention than it had up to that point.
Awkward, angular and euphoric, the third full-length outing by Denmark’s finest is a resounding triumph, coming close to capturing the chaotic utopia of those live performances. ‘I Was Playing Drums’ belongs on everybody’s Best of 2010 compilation for its curious combination of strident bass, twitching drumbeat and swooning vocals. It wilfully scorns most conventions of pop and yet still emerges as a delicious little earworm.
Like a sing-song in a broken lift, ‘Magic Chairs’ is both a record to revive flagging spirits and to claustrophobically fuck with your mind via a decent pair of headphones. Stuttering beats, melodious layers often bordering on drones and bold orchestration raise tracks like ‘Alive’ and ‘Scandinavian Love’ out of safe territory into somewhere altogether stranger. Having released a CD/DVD set of their last album performed with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, ‘Magic Chairs’ is undoubtedly enriched by that experience and is their best yet. Picking up from where the rightly lauded ‘Parades’ left off, the songs here are boldly orchestrated and take some time to fully reveal themselves. It’s a courtship to cherish.