CD Review: Carl Platou's Debut Album Frozen Eve
Norwegian singer-songwriter Carl Platou’s debut album, Frozen Eve, is a recording with a unified atmosphere — what he may rightly call “dark pop.” I am often skeptical of over-labeling music, but consider the songs’ features: frequent use of minor and modal keys, the occasional use of expressively biting chords unexpected in pop music, delicate and intricate moody arrangements and clear pop song structures. He does not completely abandon popular music’s palette, but stylizes what kinds of chords and timbres he wants to deliver in a specific performance.
The performance centers on Carl Platou’s voice and overall can be compared to the way Leonard Cohen interacts with text and the accompanying music. Platou is a slow word-slinger, with almost every word filled out by the interesting timbre of his non-native English. Without trying to collide artists together, I can’t help but imagine an older Platou being able to deliver “I’m Your Man” with the same dark nuance that Cohen did in the recent film of the same name.
Still, Platou’s voice is more agile than Cohen’s, and while not virtuostic in a traditional or Aguileran sense, it is evocative and capable of working against its own norms for expressive effect. Throughout the album, Platou temporarily enters a happier atmosphere, working against the base language of his work. In songs like “Happy,” this is especially true; the verse is dark, yet the chorus is a sudden burst of light — a clear text painting juxtaposes the loneliness of life and the angelic feeling of finding someone who truly connects with you.
A problem throughout the album is the balance of the unusual sound of Platou’s voice with brief moments of what sound like a weak performance. This occurs on one or two phrases in three or four songs, where his pronunciation seems a bit wonky. Still, the overwhelming majority is delivered in a convincing, personalized way. Perhaps these “deliberate mistakes” remind the listener that the beauty of Platou’s voice is its slow delivery, wide pronunciation, traces of a continental English accent, variation in timbre and his ability to use these elements to create a thrilling singing persona.
Platou is currently living in Oslo. Frozen Eve is available on various websites including Amazon.com and CDUniverse.com. For more information, visit his website at www.carlplatou.com or his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/carlplatou.