Danish baroque electronic pop quartet WHEN SAINTS GO MACHINE are hard at work on their follow-up to 2011's Konkylie. In "Mannequin," we get the first taste of new material from the band, set to eye-popping, slightly unsettling visuals from Mia Fremming and Intense Studios. A digital single for "Mannequin" is due June 19th.
How do you follow-up a record like When Saints Go Machine’s 2011 debut album, Konkylie? Lush, multifaceted and without precedent, it’s the kind stunning opening statement that it’s close to impossible to better. Luxurious textures were one of Konkylie's defining characteristics. Instead, they’ve done the opposite and applied German architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s famous saying: “Less is more”.
When Saints Go Machine’s new single, "Mannequin," the first song from the set that will form their second album, doesn’t exactly strip the Danish four-piece’s sound back to bare bones, rather it dials it down to something more subtle and more intimate. “It wasn’t something we talked about,” says Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild, the band’s frontman. “Maybe it has something to do with our last album being received as it was. When you experience people singing along and taking your songs personally you loosen up and feel like giving a little more back to people. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. That you can be a bit more open, that it doesn’t always have to be hard to decipher.”
The lyrics remain obscure, however. Vonsild says that they’re “very personal.” He continues: “It’s always been like that with my lyrics. I could tell you what I was thinking about when I wrote "Mannequin" if it was about something trivial, but it’s not. Whatever I say it would be so simple that it would sound stupid compared to all the thoughts that run through your head and end up on paper. If you say a song is about losing what’s important to you or feeling that everything’s a mess or you’re in a dark place that’ll take something away from the song instead of giving something to it. The songs have words and they are supposed to create images that make you feel something that you can relate to, whatever it might be. It’s not about what the artist thinks the song is about. I could be crying and you could be dancing. That’s one of the things I really appreciate and love about music."
If "Mannequin" is the start of a new direction for When Saints Go Machine, Vonsild isn’t one hundred percent sure exactly what direction it is. “Some stuff is simpler. There are a lot less elements in some of the new material than the older songs. But still keeping the same kind of universe - strong feelings and a atmosphere that communicates emotions we all share. One thing I know is that we all agree it has to feel like an album and not just a collection of songs.”
Any way you work it, it’s an electrifying prospect.