7ebra’s are Malmö’s twin sisters Inez and Ella, and their new album Bird Hour is a release on the PNKSLM label* that people will look back on and proclaim this debut as an instant classic. It’s a mix of gentle anthems and beautifully bitter-sweet tunes that float into your subconscious so completely that you’ll find yourself humming them at some point.
Songs fall into two distinct camps: quiet reflection and upbeat, but the bridge between them are the beguiling catchiness of the tunes. The gradual build-up of opening tracks ‘Secretly Bad’ and ‘I Like to Pretend’ draw you into their world. The guitar can be clean or undulating as on ‘Rude Body’, or scuffed up and speedy as it is on ‘If I Ask Her’, and the keyboards can pick out perfect tunes with an organ sound or swell and phase with Mellotron warmth.
‘Born to Care’ has the hazy repetition of “I could tell you we were born to care for each other” like being sung to in a dream, and you could not slide a cigarette paper between harmonies so perfect that could only come from the shared DNA of twins. The use of the organ can be a church-like lament as it is here or woozy on ‘Lean’ as it swirls around the gently fuzzed guitar and plaintive vocals.
But it’s ‘If I Ask Her’ and ‘I Have a Lot to Say’ that are the standout tracks on the albums. They both quicken the pulse as soon as the drum beat kicks in. ‘I Have a Lot to Say’ is, ironically, the voice inside someone’s head running a commentary on everything and this internal monologue includes “I guess I’m a girl, I feel kind of gross, I’ve nothing to wear and nowhere to go. Is there a void that you want to fill, leave me alone, I don’t give a shit” and the hypnotic chorus “I have a lot to say, just not to your face, your face really bugs me, I have to look away”. Add to that the fabulous gritty guitar line near the end and this will surely end up on thousands of playlists.
Ella says “You can’t take yourself that seriously. It’s too emotional to take it seriously, to start hating yourself. But at the same time, it is quite serious” and of the song’s themes “I guess it’s about trying to understand yourself, in relation to others. Just life. ‘Why am I not good at this, why is this thing happening to me, why is this thing so hard, why am I so stupid?’”
No doubt there will be some lazy comparisons with Wet Leg but what they do have in common is knowing how to write a tunes that are so catchy they make the common cold seem hard to get. Even with the minimal backing of boom-tish drums, guitar and keyboards, you never feel like you’re missing out on a full band. That said, I can imagine more musicians being added as their success grows, all the way from an indie four-piece up to a full orchestra show. I also expect people will be begging to remix these tracks as great songs can withstand everything from string arrangements to 4-on-the-floor house treatment.
Bird Hour has the eerie melancholy of Portishead’s Dummy and the simple perfection of Tracey Thorn’s pre-Everything But The Girl early solo work. I’m not the only person predicting big things for 7ebra but get in now and see them live and you won’t be disappointed. You will also be able to smugly brag about that small venue gig to the person sitting next to you at their Royal Albert Hall concert with the LSO in 2027.
7ebra socials: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
*PNKSLM are one of my all time favourite labels and I imagine an alternate universe where Stockholm’s night sky is illuminated by the PNKSLM logo shining out from the top of their 30 storey HQ on Södermalm as label bosses Luke and Johan celebrate another week where 19 out of the top 20 singles and albums are artists on their label. The phone rings and its ShitKid, Sweden’s longest serving Prime Minister, calling to congratulate them on their music bringing about world peace again. A man can dream. Check out their releases here.
Review by Paul F Cook
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