One of the nice things about running Opus is that I’m occasionally reintroduced to an album that, for one reason or another, I overlooked when it originally came out. Case in point, 2011’s The Sea of Memories, the debut from Swedish duo Pallers (who were the focus of this month’s subscriber-only podcast episode).
Childhood friends Johan Angergård (Acid House Kings, Club 8, Poprace) and Henrik Mårtensson (Poprace, Starlet) spent three years crafting the ten songs that comprise The Sea of Memories, during which they also released a string of acclaimed EPs and singles. The amount of time spent is evident throughout; by not rushing things, Pallers created an album filled with glossy pop of the finest variety, with melodies and arrangements burnished to almost blinding levels of polish. (Then again, what else would you expect from a project involving someone from Club 8?)
The fey vocals and dreamy arrangements on “Years Go, Days Pass” evoke Erasure’s lovely brand of forlorn synth-pop even as “The Kiss” recalls New Order at their ’80s zenith. Meanwhile, album highlight “Humdrum” is just as entrancing now as it was when I first heard it nearly sixteen(!) years ago; the song’s synth arpeggios, wistful vocals, and ghostly guitars work together to create a captivating sonic space.
Angergård and Mårtensson expand their palette in other ways, too. “Tropical Fishbowl” is a short, meandering guitar vignette graced with airy synths while “Sound of Silence” ventures into the sort of ominous ambience one typically associates with the Cryo Chamber and Cyclic Law labels. Finally, melancholy ballads “Wired” and “Nights” are quite on-brand for the duo’s motto: “Dance music for the lazy, the blazers, and for the slightly depressed.” With its rich tapestry of sounds spread across nearly seven minutes, “Nights” is particularly affecting, and ends the album on a haunted note.
Back in 2011, Angergård expressed a desire to record and release a new Pallers album “every two or two and a half years.” It’s a plan that obviously never came to fruition, as The Sea of Memories remains Pallers’ only full-length to date. It’s disappointing that Angergård and Mårtensson have yet to resurrect their collaboration, but that just means the existence of The Sea of Memories feels all the more unique and special, like a fleeting moment that will never be repeated.