New Music | Mando Diao – I ungdomen
by Jon W. Cole, is a contributing writer living in Memphis, TN. He occasionally posts mixes @ audioretrospective.com.
In 2011, Mando Diao vocalist Gustaf Norén was asked to set a poem by Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding to music on occasion of his death centennial. Encouraged by this experience, the band chose 9 more poems to arrange as Infruset, their first native language record. Fröding is one of Sweden’s most celebrated poets, though most of his published poetry was written during or in approximation to stays at mental institutions. His alcoholism, believed schizophrenia, & relationship troubles are clearly byproducts of his extreme sensitivity, evidenced in his poetry.
Recorded in a converted barn in just several days, Infruset is a gorgeous set of songs, and I ungdomen (In Youth) is the clear centerpiece. “The river’s so beautiful, sparkling and wild / the pines are so blithely a-twitter / Here, lazy I lie like a spoilt, young child / on nature’s warm lap ‘midst the glitter.” The waltz arrangement is perfect, and you even hear a sparkling stream in the background during the intro.
For me, this record seals Mando Diao as one of the all-time great rock & roll bands. I’ve always found it peculiar that they never broke through in the U.S. like the Hives did, considering Bring ‘Em In was about a thousand times better than Your New Favourite Band, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes. They know what’s up in Sweden, this record debuted at #1.