Anyone who had functioning ears back in 2006 can attest to the power of an impossibly addictive lo-fi drum beat. That is to say, the jaunty opening rumble of ‘Young Folks’ by Peter, Bjorn & John, is a lethal weapon, and it will hold you prisoner, regardless of your feelings on the matter. Right before the whistling kicks in, it’s the drums which are your first captors, and they’re what keep the song moving well beyond that melody line into the special song that it is. We’re now a decade on, and seemingly free of ‘Young Folks” iron grasp, but another set of talented Swedes have appeared, wielding their own shuffling beat as a weapon to tremendous effect – face the jury, Holy Now, and plead guilty to your crime of stealing hearts!
Don’t worry – there’s no whistling on ‘Dead End’, and aside from a certain insistent beat that’s where most of the similarities between the two songs end, as the song then wanders quickly off the path to explore the world of Swedish indie-pop in its own unique way. The charm of ‘Dead End’ lies less in one undeniable earworm but instead in the way it lets itself sprawl and and soar around a meandering and ramshackle guitar riff. Meandering and ramshackle it may be, but it’s an organised sort of chaos, and that’s why it works so well. Though in places it seems like they’re making it up as they go along (and getting away with it) when the song has been trundling along in it’s own way for several minutes and is suddenly elevated by a fresh new melody line and tight harmonies, or as melody lines from the start and from the vocal are gradually incorporated into that endearing, roaming riff you know it’s all a ruse – Holy Now know exactly what they’re doing, and they’ve had you captive since the first beat.
The rolling pace set by the drums in those first few moments remains ‘Dead End”s secret weapon to the last – even as the the guitars pirouette around and the vocals effortlessly lift the track to the stratosphere and back down to earth, it’s the rhythm’s firm guidance which gives the song a necessary tether, a vague sort of path to follow, and even as the journeying sounds wander off in any direction they want, the beat is there to guide them back, and keep you firmly enraptured.
‘Dead End’ features on the band’s recent EP Please Call Me Back which is available now through Lazy Octopus Records – take a listen below.