Every successful album, of every genre of music you can imagine, relies on a few key characteristics to make it the monumental album people herald over time. Perhaps it’s the timeliness of the album’s subject matter and how it ties in to what’s going on in the world today. Maybe it’s the originality of the blend of influences a band’s been combining to make something fresh. Most often than not, though, most timeless albums share a single common thread. In other words, the album just flows like an everflowing stream of (insert flow-y liquid/substance here). Norway’s instrumentalists Spurv harness the ability to flow on their third album, Myra.
After a short, ambient intro complete with rushing water, a horn opens up “Og Ny Skog Bæres Frem,” immediately followed by a high-note tremolo melody on guitar, an off-kilter drum pattern, and a melody carried by bassist Hans-Jakob Jeremiassen. The song gets noticeably heavier towards the second half, as Jeremiassen’s bass gets distorted, and both Herman Nilius Otterlei and Gustav Jørgen Pedersen trade off some intriguing tremolo melodies as the song reaches the end. While not the most effective of opening salvos, it at least got my attention long enough to wonder what was next on the menu.
And that next item, “Fra Dypet Under Stenen,” could give American instrumental lords Russian Circles a run for their money. Between Jeremiassen’s groove, Simon Ljung’s frantic drum playing, and build-up and release of tension that swells and releases, “Fra Dypet Under Stenen” stands out for being simultaneously hefty yet also glowingly optimistic in its melodies and aura, and packs a truck-full of drama and intrigue in its eight-and-a-half minute length. Closer “Allting Får Sin Ende, Også Natten” comes closest in terms of matching its intensity, building off a beautiful opening piano melody, and riding a wave of emotions that build and crest repeatedly over the song’s ten-minute duration. When Spurv are on their game, the emotional tug-of-war leaves the listener exhausted in the best ways possible.
But that middle section pulls things down a bit. I know it’s not easy to build up tension without a vocalist, but as Russian Circles and Caspian have proven, it can be done. While none of the songs between “Fra Dypet Under Stenen” and “Allting Får Sin Ende, Også Natten” are bad, they don’t particularly stand out, either. But as a collective whole, though, Myra makes for an engaging listen when you’re in the mood to (mostly) sit down, kick back, and unwind for about 40 minutes. Aiding in this journey is a lush production, sounding both natural and organic, whether it’s in Jeremiassen’s bass, Ljung’s kit, or the layers upon layers of horns and strings that perforate the album.
And that’s exactly how Myra is best listened to: as a creative, flowing whole rather than just bits and parts here and there. While it won’t replace Geneva or Memorial as my go-to album for an instrumental fix, Myra definitely intrigued me enough to keep an eye out for Spurv‘s future offerings, as there’s a lot to enjoy here. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for.