Kent – the Swedish band you’ve never heard of (unless you’re Swedish)

It’s funny how you sometimes start playing to death an album you haven’t been bothered to play for years. Sometimes it’s a whole day playing Miles Davis. Sometimes it’s adding a Swell album to your playlist, just because you’re in the mood for it.

I was putting together a mixtape for someone – even though it’s on CD – and in a flash of inspiration I found out my not-played-in-years ‘Isola‘ by Kent, and a couple of tracks from that album went into the mix.

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'Du & Jag Döden'

A couple of days later I was helping The Saving Grace get some acoustic demo’s recorded in Rob’s front room(I have the spare mics, pre-amps, and I know how to fly Ableton Live. And I appreciate any free beer you’ve got going) and I bought the Kent CD along because I thought it might be the singer’s ‘Bag’. It was. We all decided it couldn’t be more his bag than if it was a bag with ‘This is Paul’s bag’ written on the side. When I got home, I played the CD all the way through for the first time in about 8 years.

2 weeks later, I have bought a new Kent album, an EP, and about a quarter of their collected B-sides album. Looking at the play counts in iTunes, I have played the album ‘Du Och Jag Döden‘ about 25 times. And this album is sung in Swedish, and I understand absolutely no Swedish at all. I don’t even know what the band look like and I don’t care.

I’m not sure how you’d describe their sound, but I know how I’d describe it: If you took a fair bit of Bends-era Radiohead, added a little Sigur Ros, and mixed in a load of how you think Muse might sound not having really heard them, then add a little ‘Achtung Baby’. Pour into ears in great volume. That is roughly how they sound.

Kent are probably the biggest band in Sweden – and they’re pretty large in the rest of Scandinavia, too. They tried to break the US market with Isola – they even re-recorded the vocals in English – but they weren’t interested. After the following album they stopped releasing English versions. This is a shame, because I think they’d be a lot bigger if UK or US started listening to them. But they’re not going to, are they? They don’t sing in English.

I recommend listening to ‘Bianca’ or ‘Velvet’ from Isola (either language will do) and if someone can tell me what the hell the guitarist in the left channel is doing in the chorus of ‘Bianca’ I’d be grateful. ‘Palace & Main‘ off Du Och Jag Döden is pretty darn good too.
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