DENMARK: This Is for the White in Your Eyes - Choir Of Young Believers
Updated: Feb 16
Amazing mood music, but listen closely and the album will soon reveal cracks
It is not often that I am left with such contrasting feelings about an album after returning to it for the first time in a while. Yet, This Is For The White In Your Eyes, an album I initially really loved, has some deeply obvious flaws. My memories of the record were that it was incredibly enjoyable on a passive listen. The soft ambient start of each song before they evolve into an orchestral moment of brilliance is something that I massively enjoyed when listening to it as background music. Yet, as I have gone back to listen to the album several times, for the purposes of writing this review, I soon begun to realise that this formula was used on every track, making the album live between this fallow ground of being impressive and entertaining whilst simultaneously boring and even at points irritating.
“At times spooky, spiritual and uplifting, Choir of Young Believers possess an immense quality that makes them like their aforementioned Scandinavian counterparts (Sigur Rós) evoke imagery of nature in their music in much the same way.”
As I got to track eight, Why Must It Always Be The Same, I began to laugh at the incredibly appropriate name for the song. I couldn’t tell if Choir Of Young Believers were in on the joke, making a sly comment about the monotonous nature of the album itself or were simply oblivious to the fact that their music all basically sounds the same. The thing is that even though it all sounds broadly similar, like Coldplay, their music is of a high enough quality that I could still appreciate their songs even if it felt like I have heard the same song played 50 times. Don’t get me wrong, the sound of the band is not like Coldplay, a much better comparison would be Bon Iver or even at points Sigur Rós. At times spooky, spiritual and uplifting, Choir of Young Believers possess an immense quality that makes them like their aforementioned Scandinavian counterparts evoke imagery of nature in their music in much the same way. This is seemingly no coincidence as Jannis Noya Makrigianni who wrote the songs on a village on a Greek island where he seems to have been inspired by the stunning landscapes he would have had at his disposal and sounds such as pouring rain at the start of Wintertime Love, or birdsong in the softer and more stripped back Under The Moon make for pleasant additions.
Whilst I do believe songs from this album would work best as a background music, perhaps within a film which depicts a moment of euphoria after much hardship, I will try to identify aspects of the album which managed to differentiate itself from the other songs that I liked. My favourite song Action/Reaction reminds me of Pompeii by Bastille. This is because it has an indie pop sensibility that the rest of the record doesn’t quite have, as it starts with high energy intro, unlike most of the album. The song is packed with lots of great reverb and some beautiful high-pitch harmonies. One other song with a more upbeat first few chords is She Walks. It begins with a marching percussive beat, making the first few chords reminiscent of Rasputin by Boney M, though whilst this comparison may seem like high praise, I am not such a great fan of this track as I find it more depressing than it is inspiring.
Claustrophobia, however is a great track, it rather surprised me sounding a lot like The Housemartins particularly at the start. I really liked how the song blends into the final track Yamagota in one seamless transition and I love the percussion throughout the track. Claustrophobia also contains great lyrics which I enjoyed, questioning faith in an omnibenevolent God:
Where do we go when there's nothing left
You sure you loved me?
My daddy told me we were baptized in gasoline
No one deserves this, God I thought I loved you so, ooh-oh
Overall, this album has great moments and many great songs that can be enjoyed in single form. However, as an album I cannot escape but feeling it does not work as the kind of record one would stick their earphones in and focus on for the duration as it is far too repetitive. Nevertheless, as an ambient piece with many glorious climaxes this album most definitely fits the bill. However, to give Choir Of Young Believers their fair due, I will give Rhine Gold and Grasque a listen as This Is For The White In Your Eyes was only their second album and I would be curious to see how a group with clear talent have evolved.