Promise and the Monster - Feed the Fire
Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Billie Lindahl's Feed the Fire opens with a warm track inviting us in from the cold. But an accelerating sense of euphoria and dread warns of conflict ahead.
Lindahl's band name Promise and the Monster references a children's book about a pony and a monster but this, her third, album discusses more adult tensions in-line with her increasing maturity (she released her first album at just 19 years old). Lindahl's setting is defined by tensions between tangible and intangible, ascent and descent, on top a 1960s motif drawing influences from Lee Hazlewood and Nico. Producer Love Martisen's wide instrumental range, including Mariachi horns and Chinese violins, feature.
There is epic breadth. 'Machines' describes nations during industrial revolutions; the fight between man and machine and people and eras, with Mazzy Star like vocals cutting through ominous guitars and nostalgic trumpets. And there is optimism, 'Hunter' delivers an uplifting message with a marching tempo against an early 1980s electronic background not dissimilar to OMD.
The accessible 'Hammering the Nails' stands out, its drumbeats image an adult hammering on the wall at a child boxed in by her discontent, the voice soaring "Save me". Lindahl cites filmaker David Lynch as an influence, we heard 'Eraserhead' in 'Machines', now we hear 'Mullholland Dr.'.
Matters conclude with the traditional song 'Fine Horsemen' as Lindahl recaps her anything but joyride. We're left with "These are your dreams / These are my dreams", symmetrically with the first track, soundtracked by a soothing nursery rhyme glockenspiel. Feed the Fire is a narratively strong work from an increasingly mature artist.