FM Belfast: Don’t Want To Sleep
Sometimes, writing about certain bands actually is like dancing about architecture, especially when it comes to those bands that seemingly focus more on the performative elements of their music. The Icelandic foursome, FM Belfast, started out as a twosome in 2005 after couple Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir received great feedback on a Christmas song they had made for some friends. After acquiring two other members, Árni Vilhjálmsson and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, they officially joined the music scene in 2006.
At the SXSW Festival in Austin this year, MTV declared FM Belfast to be one of 2011’s “International Bands to Watch.” Yes, watch. It is ideal to see FM Belfast live before hearing their recorded work because of the initial shock their gloriously kitschy live set gives you. These extended aerobic workouts of electro pop are enhanced by mid-performance strip-downs from bow ties to briefs, groups of as many as 40 people onstage, occasional reinterpretations of bad-but-good songs, and a general who-the-hell-cares atmosphere.
This year, FM Belfast released their second album, entitled Don’t Want To Sleep. In short, it definitely is an FM Belfast album, but it’s a bit louder, a bit moodier, and a bit more experimental than its predecessor, How to Make Friends. However, the lyrics still can seem to be complete balderdash or at least open to interpretation, depending upon how analytical one is. Although hints of regret and confusion color the first track, “Stripes,” and the fourth track, “Mondays,” these songs are still energizing, soulful and danceable. Absurdity abounds in “American,” a track that is beautified by the sweetly hazy vocals of Lóa. A clear break in the album is the track “I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep Either,” which, like the title of the album, serves as a kind of anthem for a band of such unstoppable energy. The album ends well with the track, “Happy Winter,” a track of solid and subtle beauty with well-balanced male/female parts and a detectable resolution.
Amidst computer game sounds and plastic cowbells, there are rolling pianos and synths on this album, but the trumpet playing by mighty trumpeter Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson (Ghostigital) on the tracks “Vertigo” (one of the strongest on the album) and “We Fall,” gives this album a polished feel.
Don’t Want To Sleep truly is another good training session for a future show.