“Heaven’s on Fire” (The Radio Dept. cover)
Annika Norlin has always been an intriguing case. The 34-year old Östersund, Sweden native first came to my attention a few years back courtesy of Hello Saferide, which was her “English” project, at least at the time. There was a time when I would play “Anna,” off of More Modern Short Stories, to the point of utter annoyance. I’d definitely file the music under “optimistic melancholia,” which really isn’t as much of a juxtaposition as one may think. It’s the sort of music you would expect to come from environs which are encroaching upon the Arctic Circle.
It was through that band that I discovered Sakert! (meaning “yeah right” in her mother tongue), in which she led a different cast of musicians, playing Belle & Sebastian-esque indie pop, but singing in Swedish. Like many Scandinavian acts, Sakert! had strong support in English-speaking countries, and while many fans were content to enjoy the songs in their original form, many were left to their own devices to figures out the meanings of the lyrics. But according to Norlin, “How sad that I can’t just translate the songs.” Which is when she thought: “Um, why don’t I just translate the songs.”
“What if,” she thought, “I translate them almost word by word, and it nearly turns into a third language, English words used in a Swedish way?”
And that’s where we are with På Engelska, which was released back in September. It’s heavy on songs off of Facit, Sakert’s second release. Whereas we were familiar with tracks like “Köttet är svagt,” “Dansa, fastän,” and “Fredrik,” this time around we know them as “Weak is the Flesh,” “Dancing, Though,” and, well, “Fredrik.” While some tracks are a little awkward at first because it’s only natural to compare them to the originals, the record stands on its own, serving as a good bridge to the next truly new Norlin-speared release.
The video above is for “The Lakes We Skate On.” Several versions were made at a workshop held by film photographer Lisabi Fridel. One of which Norlin liked so much that she tapped it as the “official” version. Work courtesy of Ellen Fiske.