Nearly three years ago, the blogosphere was whipped up into a near frenzy after a series of cryptic videos featuring various numerical codes, images related to the folklore of the mandragora and a mysterious obscured blonde woman were anonymously sent to a number of music journalists.
Lady Gaga, Bjork and even Christina Aguilera were just some of the high-profile names that were bandied about by wannabe sleuths, so it was something of an anti-climax when the artist behind the enigma was exposed to be little-known Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee and one-time Travis keyboardist Claes Bjorklund.
Recording under the rather awkward guise of iamamiwhoami, the self-described multimedia entity therefore arrive on the scene with a reputation for creating disappointment. However, their debut album, kin, due out next month, goes some way in compensating for the whole project’s rather underwhelming reveal.
Replicating the other-worldly atmosphere of their stunning visual promos, each of its nine tracks (all of which received the video treatment before the album’s release) are strangely unique, from the eerie lullaby of opener “sever” to the icy indie-disco of closer “goods.”
Indeed, those who perhaps understandably wrote off iamamiwhoami as another pretentious one-trick-pony after witnessing their first few mystical clips may be forced to think again. The spacious post R&B of “play” and the grungy techno of “in due order” prove they’re capable of thinking outside the usual ethereal electro box, while the 80s synth-pop of “good worker” and the gentle chillwave of “idle talk” show that avant-garde and highly melodic aren’t always mutually exclusive terms.
Undeniably drawing from a string of similar banshees, from Bjork to Roisin Murphy to The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, Lee’s enchanting vocals manage to hold these various strands together, while Bjorklund’s woozy dreamlike production provides enough twists and turns to prevent the record from ever slipping into comatose territory.
iamamiwhoami’s earlier whodunit was an inspired way of grabbing people’s attention. Luckily, kin should have no problem in holding it.