Review : Frida Hyvonen - Silence Is Wild
AllmusicFrida Hyvönen's debut record, Until Death Comes, unveiled a singer with a sweet and powerful voice, as well as a songwriter with a gift for catchy melodies and compelling, off-kilter lyrics. Her second album, Silence Is Wild, changes up a few things but retains everything that made Hyvönen special. The main change is that, while her debut was rather sparse and featured Hyvönen's piano as the main instrument, here she and co-producer Jari Haapalainen chose to surround her voice and piano with a wide range of instruments (horns, strings, drums, synthesizers) and lush arrangements. This decision works wonderfully, as it gives the album a sense of diversity and dynamic tension that was missing on Until Death Comes. That record sounded very good, but by the end came across as a little one-dimensional; this record is full and rich with plenty of variation in tempos and instrumentation. One fear might have been that the increased attention to the sound of the record might have diminished the impact of the lyrics, but instead of burying them, the arrangements bring the words to life. A track like "Pony" might have been a bit too dirge-like with just piano, but the swooping synths and steady beat of the drums keep the song chugging ahead, "Oh Shanghai" could have been a drag without the vocal chorus and swelling organ. Elsewhere, the arrangements give the record a welcome injection of energy — check "London!" with its swinging tambourines, or the headlong rush of "Scandinavian Blonde," to hear Hyvönen actually almost rocking out. Only a handful of songs are stripped down to just voice and piano (like the harrowing and unsparing "December"), and while they don't sound bad, these tracks serve to reinforce what a good idea it was to open up Hyvönen's sound. Her voice on its own can be overwhelming (check the opening of "Highway 2 U," where she lets loose and comes dangerously close to sounding like a joke contestant on American Idol) and tough to warm up to. Adding strings, organs, and other voices wraps the vocal punch in velvet and helps the quirks go down easier. That she writes songs as affecting as "Dirty Dancing" and "Why Do You Love Me So Much" also helps. Alvin & the Chipmunks could sing them and bring a tear to your eye. Silence Is Wild is a solid step forward for Frida Hyvönen and a record to check out if you like singer/songwriters with a unique approach to be singing and songwriting....full text
NowtorontoSwedish singer/songwriter Frida Hyvönen walks this oddly compelling line between awkwardness and grace, combining bombastic piano pop with an intimate and subtle side. Embarrassingly personal and blunt lyrics are salvaged by her dark sense of humour and clever plot twists, making you cringe and swoon in the same song – a unique tension that pays off more than you’d think.
Listeners familiar with Hyvönen’s 2005 debut, Until Death Comes, should be warned that this is a much lusher and more theatrical production. It might not work for all listeners, but a stronger sense of individuality is definitely coming through. It feels like she’s made no effort to censor herself musically or lyrically, and that naked honesty makes this disc stand out strikingly. ...full text
PopmattersIf Frida Hyvönen’s debut, Until Death Comes, painted her poetry and fatalism in stark black on white, her impressive sophomore effort is all shades of grey. Largely abandoning the honky-tonk piano accompaniments that purposefully limited her early compositions, Hyvönen’s quietly grown into fully-realised pop star, her arrangements now lush where they were stark. Even on simple piano ballads, the Swedish songstress seems to have found greater confidence, a richer harmonic vocabulary, and a more coherent style. Which, together, makes Silence Is Wild a pretty impressive album.
Frida Hyvönen is not shy about chronicling uncomfortable experience. On “Once I Was a Serene Teenaged Child”, from her debut, she sang about the complex emotions of a young relationship: “Once I felt your cock against my thigh … I want to be one of you guys / But I don’t want your body so close … But the feeling of power was intoxicating”. The singer’s conversational writing style and forthright, even confrontational, subject matter is carefully calibrated—she must be counted a feminist singer-songwriter, but this isn’t what makes her unique, or special. That is a consequence of the skill with which she communicates commonly experienced but rarely-discussed ugliness to the listener . Silence Is Wild deploys its bombs with casual sweetness. Watch for the longing in “My Cousin”, when Hyvönen asks:
I’m not the marrying kind, and neither are you
But still I am absurd enough
To ask you: if we were the marrying kind
Would it be my hand you’d ask for?
Then there’s “December”. The song, a companion piece perhaps to 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, has the harmonic adventurousness of Soviet Kitsch-era Regina Spektor, but without the cuteness. It’s a devastating, drop-what-you’re-doing moment....full text
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