The band we’ve been waiting for; the saviours of Norwegian rock, have stepped fully onto the stage. Pirate Love have just released their debut album, and “Black Vodoun Space Blues” is just the record it says it is: the cure for the insidious ennui. It is black punk; a primal scream that shatters the conformity of Norwegian social democratic rock.
Yes finally something is happening. After years of utterly predictable outings from the big names in Norwegian rock, especially so regarding the Oslo scene, there are signs at last of rupture. Pirate Love is the force behind it. They call it black punk. The young pirates have this one objective and leitmotif; to dispel the dreary gloom with true darkness; to put some pure caffeine in the insipid brew that only has the colour right, but not the intention and certainly not the effect. Pirate Love are about to become the banner behind which many will flock; all those who have long since seen through the contrived and lobotomized sound of Norwegian rock, which is self-weary to the point off nausea, but which still, aided by the must uncritical corps of critics in history, professes to be delving deeper into the true essence of this once rebellious musical expression.
Norwegian rock; most of it is either drab Americana, or it is of the Scandinavian riff-rock kind, i.e. loud and banal, lacking every hint of necessity and true creativity. It is rather the recirculation of a very limited set of ingredients: like prison food or black and white TV. Norwegian critics act as if black and white TV is still more genuine than colour vision; as if rock is the art of limitation. “We want colour!” sneers Pirate Love. It is about the flare of reality. Norway is such a boring place, and everyone is so content –this is the band’s diagnosis anyway- that reality has become cloaked in the dullness of comfort. That is why rock has become contrived, like a pleasant vocation among others. In a recent interview they put it bluntly: “It’s a good thing for us that people make poor music; it just makes our music all the better.”
So what is Black Punk? It is heroic, it is young, and Pirate Love is a band that combines frenzy and ambition in a way that amounts to almost shocking arrogance. But unlike all those pretence punk rock rebels, who in fact are old and orthodox and always need to talk about it, because they cannot or dare not put into music, Pirate Love really have the songs and musical energy that acquits them of their arrogance. As critics point out (for they have indeed awoken to this new band) the record “Black Vodoun Space Blues” is desperate and loud and uncompromising in every sonic aspect. But that is not the point, for this is not simple form lacking content. Pirate Love make brilliant songs: simple, catchy, dark and exotic. True music is at the heart of it all. The anger and arrogance is the band’s truthful demeanour, but it is not the point towards which they have groomed themselves and their sound.
Pirate Love combine the attitude of punk with the momentum of splendid rock, and further, -with the melodies and song structures of sophisticated psychedelia and true pop. They are young, make great songs, and they know it. Modesty is not the key word here, rather a morning freshness of body and soul that will have none of the dust. In a way Pirate Love manifests a very belated development in Norway: Rock has for a very long time been a matter of lads from the provinces seeking the city light and ending up as docile players in a social democratic system. Pirate Love make it plain that they have no desire to conquer Oslo and Norway and then settling down. They want out, for real, and they make no secret of it whatsoever. Their music is about this deeply felt necessity; it is a brilliant rage against the silent acceptance that nothing ever happens and no-one really dares.
Pirate Love will perform at by:larm in Olso on Feb. 22nd.
Check out the band here: