Only a year and a half after the release of their debut, Satellite Stories return with their second album Pine Trails. Self produced and self recorded, the album sessions begun in the Swedish countryside in January of 2013, with only a field of horses for neighbours, the days spent filled with long jaunts in the snow filled pine forests (hence the album title), before night fell, and attention turned to writing and recording. Sweden moved onto sessions in London and Manchester, and ended in the bands decommissioned nuclear bunker turned studio in northern Finland, culminating in 10 stories of growing up, love lost and near misses.
2012 saw the band release their debut album Phrases to Break the Ice before touring extensively through Europe. The same year the band claimed a sell-out Japanese tour whilst their music spread through much of the blogosphere.
Revealing their new single Campfire earlier this year, the band hailing from Oulu, Finland, headed straight to No.1 on the Hype Machine most blogged about artist chart. The previously released single is a fine example what Satellite Stories are all about. It begins with a delicately picked guitar and vocal introduction, before the band explodes into the track. The hugely catchy work sees the members blending vocal hooks, guitar stabs and a huge four-on-the-floor beat.
The lyrics on Pine Trails tell the usual stories of growing up, love lost and near misses. A recurring theme is a girl (or maybe a car, who knows) called Delorean, whom the singer reminisces about kissing by a Campfire and whom he is not willing to let go to Australia (Don’t Let Her Go).
With this type of pop music, lyrics are more of an appendage anyhow. At the heart of the record lies a thoroughly produced danceable pop sound that is melancholic at one moment and explodes all over the place the next.
The songs are neatly arranged and one song blends into the next. Sometimes they blend a little too much. Pine Trails doesn’t contain any particular highlights. All 10 songs have pretty much the same tempo and are written and performed according to the same proven pattern. The acoustic ballad Lorraine (could this be Delorean?) at the end of the album marks the exception from the rule. Unfortunately, the song falls flat with it’s naive lyrics (Lorraine is her name / and she lives far away in southern California / I’ll take the pain) and repetitive guitar strums. It feels more like a demo than something that should have left the studio at this point.
Satellite Stories do not aim to live up to the sophisticated pop albums released this year by Vampire Weekend or The 1975 but if you’re into Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix or Shout Out Louds you will love Satellite Stories. The Finnish four-piece plays music that is downright fun to listen and dance to. Little has changed in comparison to their first record. Pine Trails is essentially more of the same – but that same is really good and entertaining while it lasts.
Pine Trails will be released on November 1st via XYZ Berlin.
Also published on Medium.