Molly Nilsson Extreme Night School/Dark Skies Association
In the decade-plus since her first album, Molly Nilsson has become synonymous with contemporary synth pop. Beloved for her mastery over atmospheric, lo-fi synths and an unaffected vocal delivery that recalls the straight-talking of Kirsty MacColl, she is one of the genre’s most enduring acts.
On her new full-length Extreme, which she describes as “a record about power”, Nilsson innovates her sound in a way that only an artist ten albums into such a singular career can. Applying her signature style to stadium rock (single Absolute Power and Sweet Smell of Success), blues (the love song Take Me to Your Leader), pop punk (They Will Pay) and rave (Obnoxiously Talented), Nilsson sings about togetherness and utopia, and how each informs the other.
Most thrilling yet is Nilsson’s boldest foray into bracing euphoria. Obnoxiously Talented is Extreme’s highlight, along with final track Pompeii. On both, Nilsson links her smoky-aired brand of production with brighter keyboards and faster, more propulsive percussion, resulting in physical music that urges us towards the divine as we may experience it here, now, in our lives.
We may be, as we are increasingly reminded, teetering on the edge of the end. But what Molly Nilsson seems to suggest is that even if this is true, it does not take away from the things that make life beautiful – the touch of a loved one, community, music. In fact, it makes these experiences all the more important.