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Single Review: Ålesund – 'Lightning'

by Will Gough

Imagine a London Grammar and Florence + The Machine hybrid. Got it? Now add ethereal, Nordic imagery similar to that of AURORA, and you’re left with the atmospheric marvel that is Ålesund. The Bristol-based four-piece gave us a beautiful yet sombre taste of their potential with their 2020 EP ‘All Hail To Your Queen’. This time they’ve opted for a more optimistic approach, offering more bright and hopeful melodies in their latest release, ‘Lightning’, the first single teased to us from their upcoming EP ‘A Thread In The Dark’. They’ve also given us an enchanting music video for us to enjoy it with - because they’re just lovely like that.

Despite the excellent backing melodies, singer Alba Torriset is the real star of the show here. Torriset’s powerful vocals are capable of being both haunting whilst also offering a more hopeful and uplifting outlook. These mixed emotions are also seen in the lyricism of the song. The overall theme of ‘Lightning’ is a feeling of trepidation before making a big change in life, the anxiety that occurs before, and the glimmer of hope it also brings. ‘Lightning’ successfully manages to capture the emotions running up to take the plunge in life, with lines like “Hold on to the spark that lights our way” and “I’m not saying it’s not fine / to be vulnerable this time / the biggest moments in our lives”.

The backing melody is simple yet effective, with light guitars and synths excellently complimenting Torriset’s vocals. Clean drum beats and clapping percussion gives a distinct purity that really adds to the mysterious but stunning elements that make up ‘Lightning’ and Ålesund’s unique sound. Sure, the vocals are the main attraction here, but the instrumentals have been perfectly tailored to add to them rather than competing for your attention, and it results in an attractive, unified sound.

‘Lightning’ serves as an auspicious, brave anthem that looks to the future welcoming its trials and challenges openly. Although not specifically mentioned in the themes of the song, one can’t help but relate this optimism to 2021 being a slightly better year than its predecessor. If ‘Lightning’ is anything to go by, however, Ålesund seem to be taking us in a different direction from their last release, this time giving us a more positive ballad that stays true to their admirable, iconic sound. Alt-pop fans and new listeners would do very well to pay attention to what this marvellous band have in store for us next.