Album Review: Infinity Pool by When Saints Go Machine

Album Review: Infinity Pool by When Saints Go Machine

Buzzle presents a review of the 2013 album 'Infinity Pool' by electronic quartet When Saints Go Machine. The band seems to be honing in on the core of their originality, and treading dangerous waters in doing so.
When Saints Go Machine is a Danish electro-pop band from Copenhagen. Members include Silas Moldenhawer (drums), Jonas Kenton (synth, vocals), Simon Muschinsky (keys), and Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild (vocals).

In May 2013, the Danish electro-pop group When Saints Go Machine released their third full-length album Infinity Pool. This eagerly-awaited album was the follow-up to the band’s 2011 album Konkylie, which gained considerable popularity in Denmark, and even broke through into the indie/electronic scene in the United States. The song 'Add Ends' from Konkylie was accompanied by an emotionally stirring music video, that helped increase WSGM’s following. All their song lyrics are in English, which has also helped them break into the international electro-pop scene.

'Love and Respect'
Critics and fans alike, nervously anticipated the release of Infinity Pool, wondering if When Saints Go Machine could repeat their earlier success. Before the album was released, the first single, 'Love and Respect', was made public. This single was embraced by fans, but increased curiosity about the album. A prominent feature by hip hop artist Killer Mike marks 'Love and Respect', and many wondered whether it signaled a new direction for WSGM.

Their Sound
The album’s release revealed less of a change in direction than a continued honing of what When Saints Go Machine does best: sparse, atmospheric electronic music behind distinctive, often thought-provoking vocals. It would be difficult to describe WSGM’s music as catchy, although some of their melodies certainly stick with you. What’s striking about this Danish band is the depth of their sound, which combines genuine, heartfelt vocals with production that seems experimental, yet remains accessible.

An Enigmatic Album
Some people might find it difficult to get used to the syncopated rhythms that are one of WSGM’s trademarks, and Infinity Pool is definitely the band’s most enigmatic album to date. Pared with album art that looks like something out of a 90s high school graphic design class, Infinity Pool becomes a true mystery, giving attentive listeners enough food for thought to last at least until the next album comes out. After a few listens, Infinity Pool’s rhythms open themselves up to the listener, but there is still plenty in the way of bizarre sounds and lyrics to keep us interested.

A Delicate Balance
In a way, the strangeness of Infinity Pool is both its strength and its weakness. The album gives the impression of being a more distilled version of what WSGM was aiming at with their first two full-length releases. From the point of view of originality, this is definitely a good thing. On this album, the already original quartet cements their status as ground-breakers, having invented a sound that’s unlike anything most of us have heard before. Appropriately, though, this concentrated originality takes away from some of the accessibility of the former albums. Several tracks on Infinity Pool have sections that feel a little abrasive. These tracks have the deep, melodic hooks listeners have come to expect from WSGM. But on this album, the melodies are only just barely enough to balance the less poppy sections.

All this signals, more than anything, that WSGM might be shifting away from broad acceptance in the electronic music world, and striking away on their own. Infinity Pool was destined to be a divisive album. Those who like it will show that they understand and support the artistic mission that WSGM seems to be driving at. Some people, inevitably, won’t be so enthusiastic about following the band down this path they’ve created for themselves. For the rest of us, we can only hope that this exciting Danish group won’t be deterred by the controversy, and will continue doing whatever it is they’re doing.