Album Review by Mark Bayross
After a series of well received EPs and 2000’s QUIET & STILL debut, Norwegian Even Johansen releases ON YOUR SIDE, the product of a year spent holed up in a pigeon loft studio in Scotland, and it is just what Magnet fans (among them Mark & Lard and those nice folk at XFM) will have been waiting for.
Treading a fine line between autumnal whimsy and wintery melancholy, ON YOUR SIDE is an 11-song collection of gorgeous washes of strings, bubbling electronics and Johansen’s point-of-heartbreak vocals. Think Jeff Buckley fronting Björk’s “Vespertine” set, but with the emphasis on song rather than mood.
The countrified WHERE HAPPINESS LIVES and anthemic THE DAY WE LEFT TOWN provide imaginary soundtracks to “Lost Highway” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” respectively, while the likes of I’LL COME ALONG and NOTHING HURTS NOW are monumentally sad ballads that positively bleed with sorrow, but in a strangely cathartic fashion.
The cover of Dylan’s LAY LADY LAY (with Gemma Hayes guesting) may be more Bacharach than Björk, but the remainder of this majestic album is quite astonishing in its beauty. As the military march of MY DARLING CURSE evokes none other than current band of choice Radiohead, now should be the time for Magnet to make an impact. Whether the limelight can tempt Johansen out of his pigeon loft is another question.