Sweden — a frozen white country full of beautiful people making beautiful music. Well, this is not entirely true. Sweden (also known for their unintelligible chefs) is both home to the dulcet tones of ABBA as well as the mind-numbing crunch of Entombed and Seance. Sweden has produced many Marcus Schenkenbergs and just as many Daniel Ekeroths (I mean no offense, sir — I love your books). Sweden, a country well known for its glistening white snow, must also be a country known for its ugly, black slush in April. This dichotomy between pretty and ugly and the lively and the morbid is one of the defining characteristics of Scandinavia. The Deer Tracks, a Swedish duo from Gävle, a city known for its promotion of electronic music, are nominally on the bright side of the Swedish color matrix, but their synth jams often belie a darker, more Strindberg-like cultural memory. After all, Stockholm, the city of Martin Beck and Lisbeth Salander, is not that far south of Gävle.
The opening of The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3, “III,” is a chanting a cappella of bright harmonies. “III” sounds like the beginning of the end, but not in a "Mountain of Megiddo" way. “III” promises closure and resolution, not blood, guts, and a bunch of dudes on colored horses. The shining and crisp “III” transitions into “W,” one of the hardest-to-resist songs of 2013. “W” gently thumps with an easy, steady beat that compliments Elin Lindfors’s sensuously angelic voice. The orchestration on “W” builds alongside Lindfors’s unintelligible harmonies, forcing the listener into a paradoxical state of euphoria and annoyance. The music of “W” is orgasmic, whilst Lindfors’s voice is so elfish and pretty, it’s annoying to us trolls living under the bridge.
The record’s third track, “Divine Light,” is a groovy tune with more than a passing resemblance to bossa nova. This tropical flavor does not last, though. “Divine Light” operates mostly like “W,” with a reliance on orchestration and David Lehnberg’s electronic production. I guess this is what you would call the backbone of “Northern Lights Electronica” — the classical influences of old Europe wedded with the New World-inspired sounds of house and EDM. This is just a guess, of course.
Something interesting happens around “Astral Ship,” the record’s fourth track. The atmospheric ambiance of the first three songs gets channeled into two divergent streams — one robotic and futurist, the other poppy as all get out — that somehow manage to connect back to another in an Ouroboros of sound. “Astral Ship” contains the type of machine noises Russolo made famous with “Veglio Di Una Città,” along with pleasing and sugary bells and whistles. It seems like The Deer Tracks know all the tricks to making complicated, yet accessible music. The apex of this type of construction is “Red Eyed Zebra,” a gorgeous song that combines chiptune elements with simple pop sensibilities and luscious production. When Lindfors coos “I was dreaming about you,” your heart will break when you recognize she isn’t exactly talking to or about you. Sorry to bring the bad news on that front, folks.
“Lazarus,” the sixth track, nixes the sugary sweetness of “Red Eyed Zebra” in favor for slightly dark track that’s heavy on the bass. Still, “Lazarus” is a love song with plenty of strings and bright, clean harmonies. In short, “Lazarus” makes sense as the album’s first single. The only song stepping outside of this standard is the final one on The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3, “Road To.” “Road To” is a minimalist song that sounds as sad as Malmö in February. Then again, Lindfors’s voice is still beautiful in its sadness, and this fact keeps “Road To” from sounding like a funeral oration.
The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3 is a good ending to a beautiful story. “Road To” may sound bitter sweet, but as listeners, the finality of the “Archer Trilogy” will not disappoint us. The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3 is a well-shaped and delightfully congenial record suitable for parties as well as nights alone at home. Either way, The Deer Tracks have carved a pretty nice niche for themselves as among the top performers in one of the world’s best electro-pop scenes. The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3 is either an apogee or another step on the mountain, but either way it’s perfect for your speakers.
3. Divine Light
4. Astral Ship
5. Red Eyed Zebra
9. The Ghost Hour
10. Road To