A Britney Spears citation on a list of influences may not be the best peek into a young artist’s potential geniusry—even if it is a budding attempt at hipster irony. Though taken literally or not, these two teen pedigrees of the Swedish indie-folk movement could list each and every nail of the devil’s hand on a chalkboard as a reason for making music for all we care. The fact is they’re innately blessed with a set of silver nordic throats. That they happened to start listening to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen is a sweet stroke of luck for our behalf.
We all start somewhere. My first record was Happy Nation by Ace of Base, and it may explain an underlying nerdness for Swedes in general, but it wasn’t this artist that provided the gateway to my current musical tastes.
The same is true for sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. If you were one of the nine million viewers of their spontaneous YouTube ode to the Fleet Foxes‘ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” you’d certainly have connected the dots to their love of vocal harmonies.
Or if you caught their immaculate ode to Patti Smith at the Polar Music Award ceremony this past September, you should have clearly witnessed the seeds of their adoration for the darker side of punk and pop. Likewise their love for singer/songwriters in general is apparent as they tackle some heavy, self-deprecating themes on their first EP, Drunken Trees, and subsequent debut album, The Big Black & The Blue, while either dueling bitter-sweet melodies with a pair of acoustic guitars, or with one of them lightly strumming away on an autoharp.
Whether or not they overreach is subjective. How can a teen know the harrowing depth of a failing marriage demonstrated in “You’re Not Coming Home Tonight”, or even already carry a heavy enough heart to reduce love to something tough on “Hard Believer“? Call it a cop-out to say that these young sirens have a vast career ahead of them to prove themselves, but it’s true. And judging by a Third Man Records cut with Jack White and the production enlistment of Bright Eyes knob-guru, Mike Mogis, on their sophomore effort, The Lion’s Roar (due January 2012)—and its baroque howl of a title track—it’s safe to say there’s more than luck involved.