The Grand Opening: Don’t Look Back Into the Darkness

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The Grand Opening: Don’t Look Back Into the Darkness - Sweden seems to generate really remarkable musicians and bands, such as Kings of Convenience, Lykke Li, Peter Bjorn and John, and Jens Lekman. Many of these musicians have gained considerable success and have managed to capture the ears of many Americans. The Grand Opening, which is fronted by singer-songwriter John Roger Olsson, is a band that is making really emotive music that places them above their contemporaries. The band’s new album delves into vulnerable and heartfelt territory.

Don’t Look Back Into the Darkness is a melancholic album that displays the band’s slowcore sound. ‘Blacker than Blue’ opens the album with a gently strumming acoustic guitar and Olsson’s quiet vocals. The lyrics seem to be about longing and a need for things to return to an idealistic past as Olsson sings, “Nothing can be as it was/ Nothing can be as it used to be”. The song ends with strings accompanying the guitar as it slowly fades. ‘Towards Your Final Rest’ is song that paints a picture of an individual who is becoming disillusioned by the life they are living. Olsson sings, “You’re tired of city life/You’re tired of the daily grind/there’s been too much noise in clubs and bars”. There is an amazing acoustic riff that plays throughout the song that helps to create a reflective mood.

‘Free’ features other members of the band providing background vocals that create a beautiful harmony. The lyrics seem to be about getting away from toxic attachments that have a strong hold on a person. Olsson repeats the phrase “don’t look back into the darkness” as a drum slowly taps along to a reverb-heavy guitar riff.

‘There is always Hope’ is one of the best tracks on the album. It is an instrumental song with a more upbeat tempo that has an acoustic guitar riff playing along with staccato horns. ‘Target’, which also features horns, is about attempting to gain control over one’s life. Guitar chords slowly sound as a woman’s vocals hum along.

‘The Living’ is a song about being hurt from a previous relationship and not wanting to try again. It is a song about wanting to protect a fragile person from further harm. ‘Tired Eyes’ closes the album with chiming piano notes playing along with a slow acoustic guitar. Olsson’s vocals are at their most bare as he sings, “You’ll be your own special sweetheart/Your own special one”. The song seems to be about finding your own self-worth and loving yourself for who you are and not what you think you should be.

Don’t Look Back Into the Darkness is one of the best albums I have heard all year. It is an album that focuses on many familiar issues, such as lost and disillusionment, but Olsson’s vulnerable lyrics and downbeat music really capture these themes. Each song retains these ideas while making use of a variety of instruments to create a reflective and somber mood. I became an instant fan of this band and sincerely hope they are able to break through on this side of the Atlantic… 9.5/10

The Living

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