From beautiful Stockholm, Sweden, the duo that forms The Lost Poets brings to life their own interpretation of rock and swamp blues on their new EP Insubordia. Released on 17 April, band members David Rosengren (vocals and guitar) and Petter Ossian Strömberg (drums and bass) have put together five heavy and dark songs enhanced by Rosengren’s soulful vocals and Strömberg’s drumming skills. The resulting sound ranges from soulful, soft, and acoustic to heavy, intense, and grandiose. The cover art is uncanny, to say the least, and the band’s eerie image reflects well the dark mood set by the songs.
Of the lead single “Ode To K”, Rosengren says it was “one of those songs that just came out of nowhere. It’s essentially about a man selling his soul to the devil and how his life was before and after he died. It’s also an homage to the love of his life for trying to help him”. He also said that the inspiration for the song comes from his life “in a twisted sort of way”.
The opening notes of “Ode” are both very true to the rock genre, but uniquely so, as they seem to be played on a guitar on the edge of falling apart, which adds dimension to the opening: “I’m dying inside”. Rosengren’s raspy voice carries the pain of regret and despair as he looks back at what he had and willingly gave up. The song is the best one on this release, bringing together acoustic and electric guitars, bass, light drumming, and clean, low-pitched, expressive vocals that surround and absorb the listener into the story.
The also moody “Lying Down” steps into grunge territory; what the opener is to Soundgarden/Pearl Jam, this one is to Nirvana. The vocals are gritty as Rosengren once again sings about the pain of regret due to wishing for things that end up being exactly what is not needed.
“Die to Live”, which at almost six minutes, is the longest of the EP, starts as an introspective ballad with a relaxed, guitar-drive melody reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” that swells into a heavy, angry, drum-driven song. The entire thing is also driven by the same underlying rhythm that allows for the two different sounds to meld into one cohesive whole, making this the second best song of the set. The feelings it evokes – of having been lulled into a sense of passivity but the anger still managing to break through – match the lyrics, which speak of the tiredness one can feel when constantly fighting and an underlying despair at the thought of one’s soul being forever lost.
The penultimate “Insubordia” has the same style of guitar beginning as “Ode To K” but sticks to a different feel from the EP opener. It evokes the same feelings of apathy and discouragement as the previous song; one can hear the emotional exhaustion as Rosengren tells us to be careful what we wish for. The EP closes with the very short and dark “Inside the Cage”.
Each of the five songs of the EP are beautiful and haunting, reflecting both Rosengren and Strömberg’s songwriting, instrumental and vocal skills as well as their creativity and unique artistic vision. The lessons contained in each song are important ones to say the least – for example, of being happy with what you have, or being careful of the consequences of our decisions, for we will pay the price of wrong ones though regret and pain.
But it is the EP in its entirety that I did not like. Its tone is too dark, and while listening to the songs separately was inspiring, the merciless pounding of dark song after dark song can be emotionally draining, since no hope or cheer is offered. I feel that this is something that musicians have to be very careful about when writing music, as it is a way of expressing what can’t be expressed in words. While there is a dark side to humanity, we can’t get lost in it. Hopefully (ha!), The Lost Poets will, in future releases, use this darkness as a tunnel bringing listeners towards the bright light of hope.