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PMMP – Rakkaudesta

26/06/2012
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If 2009’s gloomy and crushed Veden varaan was, according to PMMP‘s frontwomen, a “hopeful” album and the new Rakkaudesta is an upbeat one, I’m seriously starting to question the choice of adjectives this band uses to describe their music. To give credit where credit is due, “Tytöt” is quite possibly the most unashamedly positive song PMMP have done since their early, more carefree days (being a “love yourself” anthem and all), but elsewhere it’s your usual relationship facades, implied suicides, fear and disappointment of aging and other more typically PMMP-esque material, performed with the usually bittersweet musical tones. It’s not a very happy summer album.

Veden varaan is an apt comparison in other ways as well. The first three PMMP albums were slightly… if not messy then unorganised to an extent. They have a tendency to bounce around from place to place and style to style, marrying gentle and soft pop productions to raging punk monsters – with a little time and careful listen, they turn out to have their own cohesive selves in terms of themes and flow but a certain element of wild energy and imagination always runs through them and, you could say, powers them. Veden varaan was a notable change: its ten songs formed a far more unified vision and supported eachother to form a greater whole. Rakkaudesta keeps up the pace in this respect. There’s variation but everything seems far more planned and organised, every piece carefully slotted as a planned part and even the more left-field moments have their natural place. The big difference between the two albums, and in fact between Rakkaudesta and the rest of PMMP’s catalogue, is that for their fifth album the band have softened the edges around their music. The more aggressive rock songs and generally harder-hitting moments have been brushed away and the focus has shifted to the softer side of the band’s musical spectrum. The melancholy overtones remain but rather than underlining them with the appropriate instrumentation, they’ve been covered in almost deceptively soft tones and it might even take a while before you realise something’s off somewhere in the song: the joyous dum-de-dum choruses and declarations of love that rise to the surface on the sugar-sweet almost-title track “Rakkaalleni” sound surprisingly positive until the parts about hanging yourself on the radiator start registering in your consciousness.

The possible question mark comes with whether this particular angle has been taken too far. Slightly chaotic as they might seem, the magic with a lot of PMMP’s earlier albums – and Veden varaan, even if not to the same extent – is how those graceful and softer moments worked together with the noisier parts: partnered alongside, the former felt ever the more sweeter and beautiful and the latter felt more powerful. There was synergy to the flow. When all these softer moments are put together with little of the good ol’ discord next to them (the closest we get are the lead single “Heliumpallo” and the jubilantly bouncy “Koko show”, but they’re hardly “Matoja“), that additional impact isn’t there and the songs’ respective graces aren’t as eager to pop out. They still do, mind you, as my love for e.g. the aforementioned “Heliumpallo” and “Rakkaalleni”, the opener “4ever Young” or the gracefully anthemic “Jeesus ei tule oletko valmis” show but it’s taken a little bit of patience and time (which is why this hasn’t exactly been the most on-time review). Whether this is because of the ever-wonderful grower syndrome (yay!) or because the songwriting simply isn’t as strong as previously (nay!) remains yet to be seen, but it’s something in particular the final stretch of the album suffers from. “Tytöt”, as amusing/interesting as its experiment in making a hip-hop song is, simply doesn’t feel as convincing as it could be (I can somewhat forgive the PMMP girls not delivering their best rap flows but I did expect a bit more from the Finnish hip-hop veteran Mariska), “Pahvinaamari” has hints of being amazing but somehow stumbles and falters on the way, I still have barely any recollection how “Kevään valo” even goes, and while the closer “Toivo” is the best of the bunch, it only gets properly going during its second half when the song switches into its instrumental finale and introduces some rather delicious horn parts.

Lest this ramble becomes too negative, it’s worth a specific mention that the six tracks before the final quartet however shine wonderfully and are on par with PMMP’s past glories. The usual PMMP qualities – Vesala’s always powerful and surprisingly touching lyrics, Sjöroos’ knack for a great song and the strong and charismatic performance all around – are present and active. The first six songs carry with them the emotional and musical impact we’ve come to expect from PMMP and each have found a place in my heavy repetition over the past few weeks and have wonderfully soundtracked this miserably rainy and gray excuse we have for a summer. They give me hope that perhaps I’ve not yet found the full treasure load that Rakkaudesta hides within itself. Right now though I’m forced to repeat the same, tiresome phrase I’ve already had to utter so many times this year and which seems to have become the theme for 2012 – Rakkaudesta is a good, good album but it also feels like it could be so much more and that it’s not managed to fully tap into the potential that the stylistic path they’ve chosen for this time contains.


Rakkaalleni

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Fusions2 permalink
    05/07/2012 16:39

    Always good to hear a more positive review on this album, better than my own. Rakkaudesta is a great album, I find it to be my favourite of the bands so far.

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