Who knows what these Norwegian electro-pop kids are so happy about – we thought their home town of Bergen was full of black metallers stabbing each other in the face and burning churches. Crass generalisations aside, Casiokids’ third album Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen (‘Revelation Over the Mountain’) is a hyperactive day-glo summer jamboree that’s on general release in the greyest month of the year.
Maybe the four-piece are running on good vibes after their fellow countrymen A-Ha backed them with a one million kroner grant, for emerging Norwegian bands with export potential (take note, Bono). Impressively, after seven years together, ‘export potential’ doesn’t mean ditching their mother tongue for the pop lingua franca of Americanised English. Lead vocalist Ketil Kinden Endresen sings exclusively in Norwegian, his breathy little-boy-lost vocals buoyed by sweet harmonies, rustling percussion, melodica, cello and bubbly synths .
Casiokids’ 2007 debut Fuck Midi was sketchy enough, and 2010’s Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar was really just a jumble of singles and EPs, but Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen hangs together like an album should – with enough tangents and rabbit-holes to keep you curiouser and curiouser. The opening title track’s minimal woodwind, strings and birdsong is soon stomped over by the jerky disco beats on ‘Det Haster!’, which has a faintly disturbing video featuring rampant girl-on-teddy bear action, ’90s TV alien A.L.F. and a cuddly toy getting ritually burned. ‘Dresinen’ sounds like Franz Ferdinand making a comeback after a few Moog lessons, and ‘Olympiske Leker’’s wide-eyed house groove and squiggly keys live up to the group’s name.
Endresen may sing eerily like his compatriot Erlend Øye ( thus the Whitest Boy Alive), but the African rhythms and glittery guitar lines on ‘Golden Years’ and ‘Selskapets Triste Avslutning’ sound like the band spent some of A-Ha’s kroner on a few Fela Kuti records and a copy of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Elsewhere, they put the brakes on with the electronic torch song ‘Aldri Ska Me Ha Det Gøy’ and the polished-up Tom Tom Club stylings on ‘Elefantenes Hemmelige Gravplass’.
It’s all very intricate and considered. Polite, even. They’ve even played gigs to toddlers, their live show incorporates a puppet show and their blog is named ‘Happyjokes’. If this all sounds a bit twee, well it is, right down to the Christmas jumpers all year round. In fairness though, Casiokids are catchy. You won’t be able to pronounce the song titles, but you’ll be humming the tunes in no time.