(4 out of 5)
Those already familiar with Danish indie-rockers Efterklang won’t be surprised to hear that the group’s third album is awash in beautiful, textured arrangements. However, for those who have yet to be introduced to the quartet’s unique take on orchestral post-rock, the sound of MAGIC CHAIRS will be a pleasant revelation, indeed. While the notion of a group indulging in innovative, plus-sized arrangements of confessional pop songs (see: Radiohead, Arcade Fire) is nothing new, Efterklang bring a uniquely personal approach to their music that makes their expansive tunes seem quite intimate. Perhaps it’s that their roster numbers four instead of 14, or simply that Efterklang has far more use for trumpets, tympani, and stringed instruments than they do with squelchy samplers, but the group has carved out a special niche for themselves. While MAGIC CHAIRS is notably more accessible than its predecessor (2007’s PARADES), it’s no less innovative. The slow-burn beauty of “I Was Playing Drums” is as driven by its titular percussion as it is by a riveting melody consisting of an insistent piano/violin/vocal combination; opening track “Modern Drift” is a five-minute mini-suite that miraculously bridges the gap between ‘80s new wave balladry and contemporary Scandinavian classical music. Few bands are daring – or skilled – enough to pull off such a sonic approach, but MAGIC CHAIRS proves that Efterklang are more than capable of delivering beautiful results.