Make no mistake with how dark Makthaverskan's II is. Yes, they're a Swedish indie-pop-rock ensemble. But their musical content lies very much on the darker side of life. After hearing a couple tracks from them a while back, they never pegged me as anything that stood out but this record catches you. It follows a simple model with indie-music as cool as a breezy summer but amid the distorted guitars and hazy riffing, the themes they play on are as cathartic as they can get. Maja Milner's candor takes the Gothenburg outfit to new heights with an outlay that is as honest and as scary as can be but the fact that it's such a lovely-sounding musical novel makes it hard to ignore.
Thinking this would be the next Tancred or Pity Sex record was a mistake. Music-wise it matches up but Milner addresses a lot of tragedies in her past. Openers like "Antabus" and "Asleep" best describe their sound. They wrap around soothing instrumentals but matched with a neat, rushed indie essence. Sonically, they range from mid-tempo tracks to more soaring, hard-hitting dream-pop stuff. The album does its best to play off that Euro synth-pop feel and as scrappy as it gets at times, the strands of post-punk, neat balearic tones and an overall depressive manifesto from their lead lend a lot of credence to their musical-style. It isn't unique but still it's filled with impact. Oddly enough, there's no wailing or angry female screaming on the mic but that's what adds a lot of value. Milner's voice is so beautiful and she's a perfect fit for them. Her lull and their style is polarizing in such a good way.
Most of her lyrics feel like a sense of revenge coming out, like pent-up anger unleashed but in a calm build and with such a sharp, piercing 80s presence on the mic, it resonates a lot. Given they use a melodic spine, it's no shocker. Muddied guitars and a dirty sound are what they use to grand effect amid non-stop, tight drumming which all paint a shockingly mainstream sound. It's very rapid indie stuff but matches up nicely for fans of Silversun Pickups and Interpol. "Something More" follows suit as Milner expounds on longing, the gravity of being alone and the fact that love isn't tangible. It feels like her diary has been opened. Spaced-out guitars and echoing basslines allow the music to breath even more.
The star of this record though proves to be "No Mercy" which lets Milner roam free. She wishes ill on someone who took her youth, her innocence and has her questioning her self worth. As happy and cute as she comes off, the sense of introversion swirls in such a haunting manner that you feel a great deal of sympathy for her. 'Fuck you for fucking me when I was seventeen / You never loved me / You wanted to own me / Your time will come, my friend' she warns as she harps on karma- Poppy go-lucky riffing layered over lyrics of hate. It's bathed with emotion and something that's ladled with heartache like this really sticks.
The indie-DIY feel is prolific enough to allow the majority of their sound to sink in as it's noisy in a good way and yet, a bit harsh when it comes to lyrical exposure. Overall, if Karen O can do it, why not Milner? Her voice is stunning and as far as indie-pop-rock goes, blending these three together isn't an easy task yet she weaves and strings together their musical skeleton with such ease. While there may be too many girl-issues on hand, it makes for a brilliant narrative. It's sad to see she went through so many slumps in her past but as their music reflects, this band is certainly on the way up.