Norwegian music is in the limelight like never before and international media and critics flock to the north to attend the festivals and gatherings where new talent is presented. Since last summer one band –among the unsigned, unknown and unhyped- has received more attention than any other; New Violators.
And thus the unhyped times are already bygone and the band stands forth as one of the most intriguing and anticipated entities of the musical year of 2007. For, although they have issued a few singles –all of which have caught the ear and admiration of critics- we are still waiting for their album debut.
New Violators is a Trondheim band; that capitol of mid-Norway, home of punk rock and pork barrel politics. Musically fertile, but too snowy and cold for the temperament of chief Violator Per Borten and his white shoes. Hailing from different loud and renowned rock bands New Violators and their distinct sound was something of s surprise when they first appeared last summer. For it is a definite sidestep from the tug and release of rock and relies more on layers of synthesisers and panes of suave vocals. They sound like Bowie and bands like The Smiths and Joy Division; music with the kind of disillusionment which reminds one of a day in the life of a diplomat: streamlined and in a way flash, but bored and with a king of elusive panic; something of gleaming surfaces and voices of a deep glassy resonance. Borten sounds most of all like Morrissey, but denies any conscious influence. “I don’t own a single record with the man” says Borten, who not only sings, and leads New Violators, but also writes every note and every word. In recent interview in connection with the by:Larm festival, which went down in his hometown in early February, he cited as influences Echo and the Bunnymen and the Cure; childhood soundtracks that have been with him all along. “So when this musical vein now surfaces, it is very genuine,” he says, “even though some find it surprising and very different from what I’ve been up to before.”
Both Pitchforkmedia and, most recently, The Village Voice, have embraced New Violators calling the music Springsteen-sized, brooding eighties pop, (the Voice) and describing Borten’s songs as full of longing; sweat-soaked declarations of fleeting love. (Pitchfork)
The music is brooding in the way of a reflection that disturbs; like suddenly hearing ones own voice without wanting to, yet the songs are more optimistic than, say, Joy Division. The melodic tunes are not desperate in any way, they are more reminiscent of the blasé panic one would feel after realising that one’s world has undergone a touch of lobotomy; so that love and truth have been shifted out on a by-phase.
With a musical foundation which is sophisticated and elusive as well as very captivating Borten is a stage presence that has impressed many. “I’d been told that Norwegians don’t dance” wrote Pitchforks man, “but when New Violators played they went ape shit”. Performing, Borten is all over the place; swinging his arms and strutting his tight whites, but singing cool-thickly in shiftless topography of tone. He is a front man of a kind rarely seen, at least in Norway: confident -sophisticated and vulgar at the same time- and intensely at work with publicising the sounds of his heart.
2007 is set to be New Violators’ year. Reviews and in-depth coverage is trickling in, labels are on the hunt and the band is about to set off for America and some very decisive gigs. Three showcases in New York are only intercepted by a performance at SXSW. And with the kind of standing they already have with some of the defining names in the game, the American venture will most probably be a giant leap forward for the band.