ALBUM REVIEW/Graham Domain

Carl Schilde ‘Europop’
(Fun In The Church) 4th February 2022

The album title is very misleading – suggesting perhaps, an album of Eurovision synth pop! This may lead to a number of people ignoring this great record! In reality, the title refers to Carl Schilde’s country of origin, being born and raised in West Berlin, Germany in the 1980s but now living in Toronto, Canada. Involved in other musical ventures, this is his debut solo album and very good it is!

The first song ‘Top 40’ sets out the sound of the record, a mixture of sublime 70s soft rock and southern soul augmented by analogue synths and keyboards. The vocals sounding most like Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner (albeit in a higher register). The first song features Chris Isaak-like tremolo guitar licks adding to the laid-back vibe of the music.

By song number 2, ‘John Stamos’, we touch on a theme of the record, the struggle of the unknown artist to be heard, with Carl ‘trying to find my place in the world where everything has been done before.’ The theme continues into the third song Road-worn, with musicians soon giving up their dream of musical success to get a proper job – but still keeping hold of their road-worn instruments, just in case! Another song ‘Phase’ details the delight of the unknown artist to receive a mention, a review or even an acknowledgment of their existence, either physically in a magazine or in an internet blog! Such encouragement can mean a lot to the individual and spur them on!

Meanwhile, the song ‘The Master Tape’ begins with soothing piano arpeggios and acoustic guitar, but soon takes on an air of sad resignation as self-doubt creeps in (and a recording session ends in tears) with Carl singing ‘It’s impossible, I know, to recapture a feeling … it’s impossible, like trying to remember a dream … let’s break up the band … I keep breaking up the band’

Elsewhere, In the song ‘Soft Dads’ we get wry lyrics reminiscent of Bill Callahan (Smog) ‘remember when the 80’s still felt like the 70s’ … ‘when shit gets real, I’ll be the first to fall’. The lovely laid-back tunes continue throughout, at times sounding not unlike Sam Dee’s 1973 album The Show Must Go On while at other times touching on a kind of Stuart Staples or Tindersticks vibe.

There is sublime accompaniment throughout by the talented James Yates on drums, while Laura Gladwell provides excellent girl group harmonies, most notably on the wonderful instrumental ‘Landline Pt 2’ where she sounds like a mermaid sighing in the ocean or perhaps a siren singing a ship and its crew to their doom!

The final song ‘Credits’ sees the singer and his lover enjoying the simple things in life, having the same values, staying for the credits at the end of a film, not caring about money, not being materialistic. Lovely arpeggiated keyboards come in towards the end of the song lifting the music up into a revered state, like a shift in consciousness. It ends with the sound of wind chimes blowing in the wind! All cares gone, for now. The full moon lighting up the night bringing a sudden clarity of thought.

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