Album Review: Normandie – White Flag (2018)

  • Originally posted on March 9, 2019

The first I had heard of this Swedish band, it was in the replies under a tweet announcing the entries for 2019’s Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s annual Eurovision selection process (the final is tonight if anyone is interested). One twitter user was unimpressed because Normandie were not among the 28-strong field. I don’t know what compelled me to search for them, but nevertheless I did.

This was back in October/November. I got thoroughly hooked. Then, as luck would have it, they announced tour dates for the UK would be coming out in December. And so, in less than three weeks, I have a ticket to see Normandie live for the first time. In the meantime, they have become my most-listened to artist on Spotify. And I want everyone else to know about them.

On the face of it, they are a rock band, although how they achieve it is slightly different. Many of the guitar riffs and solos are more commonly found in metal, yet the melodic tune and slightly higher pitched voice of Philip Strand slightly softens their position on this spectrum. Indeed, the sound of ‘White Flag’ is somewhat softer than that of their 2016 album, ‘Inguz’ (also worth a listen).

‘White Flag’ is also one of the tracks on this album, and is arguably their biggest success- it has broken 200,000 views on YouTube, and even achieved airtime on BBC Radio 1. The song appears to be about the death of a relationship, from the perspective of someone who has given up and realises that it is the end of the road. This song is especially catchy — the chorus plays around my head on a daily basis.

‘Ecstasy’ opens the album, and is equally memorable. It builds from a softer opening to a heavier chorus, but my personal favourite section is thus:

You’ve got nothing left to save you now, I will make it rain on your parade

This segment provides a true insight into the meaning: he is trying to make someone realise that the path they are taking in life is not working. Arguably, ‘Ecstasy’ as a title implies it as about an addiction of some kind, although this can be about a multitude of things.

They can also do softer songs with style as well: ‘The Bell’ has more of a piano basis as a contrast to guitar riffs. This sums up the more personal nature of the song, about needing someone desperately even though everyone else believes it to be bad. Perhaps it can be placed in the context of an abusive relationship or merely an obsession? This emotion is exemplified by the use of Swedish. I wish bands who perform primarily in English would include their native language more often — it adds an extra layer of context and beauty. Also, the Swedish language is 😍😍😍

My favourite song of the 12 is ‘Moth’. He has realised what his partner/obsession is really like, and is determined to not fall into their clutches. This could also be about a friend — one of my favourite aspects of Normandie’s work here is the lack of pronouns. It can be applied to any gender, any sexuality and many different situations, allowing it to mean many different things to different people. ‘Moth’ could also be a direct follow up to ‘The Bell’ — a sort of before/after. The contrast between the verses and chorus is massive: as if the calm of realisation is suddenly taken over by the flames of anger and even fear.

The energy of ‘White Flag’ is relentless, and if you want to do a forty minute workout, this is the album to do it to. It’s shorter than many other albums of the genre, and this is great — there is not a wasted minute, when so often there is more filler than hit. But even if you strip away the meanings which this album produces, it’s simply just an extremely good listen.

Follow Normandie on twitter for more updates: @WeAreNormandie

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