Scandinavian troubadour has a head full of ideas
While Thomas Dybdahl may be too offbeat to lead a Norwegian invasion (the outgoing Sondre Lerche suits the role better), his gently majestic sophomore effort could easily inspire serious cult devotion. Science carries on the brooding chamber-folk tradition of Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith and endless others who’ve sat in a lonely room murmuring desolate tunes. Despite shivery vocals, however, Dybdahl never feels depressing, because his craftsmanship is exhilarating to behold. The beautiful, terse melodies resist easy sentimentality, and the intricate arrangements prize subtlety and variety, adding strings, vibes, bass saxophone and steel guitar to familiar acoustic settings. Dybdahl’s songs constitute a single introspective suite touching on disillusionment (“Always”) and regret (“Dice”), but also striking some surprisingly positive chords. Powered by soulful Hammond organ, “U” recalls an old-fashioned R&B seduction ballad, and the bubbly “B A Part” urges a troubled friend, “Hey man, don’t feel sad … Don’t let yourself go down.” Intimate yet never self-indulgent, Science turns one man’s busy inner world into an intriguing drama.