The sounds of Apothek have been floating around the IBG staff for quite a while.
I stumbled across a single, “Waiting for the Thunder,” back in February (having missed last October’s release of “Family”). I fell instantly in love, the way only a first kiss can make you do. Then, in June, my erstwhile colleague Shelagh Dolan caught the bug when she reviewed Apothek’s follow up single, “Reunion.”
Today, the Oslo, Norway-based duo — vocalist Morten Myklebust and producer Nils Martin Larsen — have delivered on nearly a year worth of teasing with the release of their debut full length album, Apothek.
Apothek Delivers on Promise
The album is a stunning one, at once sprawling and comfortably intimate.
It opens with “Roaring,” a cyclical synth-driven song about safety and duty. Myklebust’s cadence is mesmerizing, the synths are hypnotic, and the beautifully layered elements call to mind traditional African rhythms. It’s followed by my beloved “Waiting for the Thunder,” with its irrepressible hopefulness and optimism.
“Inheritance” bucks the trend a little bit. An atmospheric track, this one is dark and brooding — suitable for the subject matter, which explores the aftermath of a loved one.
Apothek flips the script again later with “Invited.” One of their more pop-minded tunes, the pair take an almost mainstream electropop/electrorock tack here — think post-Some Nights fun. or even Imagine Dragons in terms of ethos. This underlying feeling is most notable in the choruses, which are surprisingly dense, expansive, and demanding of your attention.
The album wraps up with “The Pulse,” the spiritual sibling of “Waiting for the Thunder” (and, fun fact, the only other song on the album with a title of more than one word). Apothek gets pretty dark in the meat of the album — Myklebust and Larsen seem to recognize this, leaving us with a surging, soaring, beautiful, and hopeful tune — a grand, stirring, emotional crescendo.
A Temporary Home
Apothek is like your childhood home. It’s safe, comfortable, familiar, though always with something new going on. There are darker moments and memories, but even those are comforting in their own way — a study of contradictions and dualities.
Also like your childhood home, there will come a time when, if you don’t move out and move on, the feelings can become stale, constrictive, repressive. If Apothek move on from here without using their considerable talent to push their own musical boundaries, that’s the risk they run.
But right now, in this moment, Apothek is exactly where I want to be. And I am happy.