Lukas Graham

4 albums, 33 tracks

Pop

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"Lukas Graham"

Mar 07, 2019

While Not The Biggest Fan Of Lukas Graham’s Output, I Commend His Skillful Execution Of Introspective Pop On ‘3 (The Purple Album)’

taylor
Written by @taylor / 7 mins read
#3ThePurpleAlbum#ClassicPop#LukasGraham#Pop

I used to have a Danish friend named Sammi (I believe that is how he spelled his name), and my memories of him, besides the fact that he was a cool and stand up guy, was that his English was so ‘American’ in its delivery. I remember asking him, since he learned English in Europe, why his accent didn’t take after England, because of it’s proximity to his own nation. I vaguely remember that he said something to the affect of; American music and TV were heavily consumed by his culture, and folks like him rather admired the sound off my accent. Lukas Graham and crew are Danes who seem to subscribe to this view as well, as their vocals especially are pretty indistinguishable from that of American Soul accents – impressive enough to my ears to be a non issue, where I would have just assumed that the Pop act was from Los Angeles. Mimicry notwithstanding, the group is not trying to be the greatest R&B singers in the world, but rather, I feel that they are more interested in introspective, storied Pop, in the vein of Ed Sheeran, and the very successful debut album, Lukas Graham, seemed to me to be designed to chase Sheeran’s international dynamite success at that time. The second time around on 3 (The Purple Album), the theme is all about growing up, with several songs tackling fatherhood, since lead singer Lukas had a child between albums. Like the deep heartfelt songs on Lukas Graham, exemplified by the truly moving “You’re Not There”, which was about the absence Lukas felt by his father’s passing, he is equally deep and almost too hard on himself about missing pivotal moments in his new child’s life, due to the demanding schedule and pressures of a maintaining a successful music career. Therefore, after hearing only a few songs off of 3 (The Purple Album), I pretty much got the gist that this was a pretty fantastic album in its own right.

Hardly A Sonic Misstep At All On This Meaningful Pop Album

3 (The Purple Album) opens beautifully with “Not a Damned Thing Changes”, a thought provoking intro to this new album, which seems to highlight the disquieting nature of people caught in the middle of suicidal limbo. I love the interesting time signature of the beat, while Lukas Graham’s high pitched vocal whines are in concert with the quality of The Weeknd (albeit The Weeknd has a more dynamic edge in this regard.) The orchestration and instrumentation builds like a major movie moment, and leads me to believe that this track, untouched, would have been perfect on a dark and mainstream DC movie such as Suicide Squad. It possesses the right balance of Rock, Pop, Synth, Soul, and an overall urbaneness. Next up is the very creative twists on the melody of “Lullaby”, with lyrics steeped in apologetic sentiment, as Lukas Graham apologizes to and at the same time makes promises to bond with his child, with lyrics such as “I'm gonna miss the most important things / and I know that / your first words, a couple steps / at least we got so many left.” On “You’re Not the Only One (Redemption Song)”, I hear a big sweeping Trap ballad with notes of Beethoven, made more notable by creative vocal color on the verses, and great dance worthy bumps from the orchestration and bass line. It is a song that definitely wakes you up and puts a spring in your step, reminding me of John Lennon’s sense of Pop. Most intriguing are the very creative vocal moments, followed by a sweeping and resonant Gospel chorus. This song is followed by certainly not my favorite melody, but good in its own right, the acoustic Pop of “Love Someone”, which can rival anything from Ed Sheeran or Shawn Mendes – and what’s more, sounds completely unique, rather than vocally derivative of those two artists. Great vibrato and Soul permits this kind of Pop to transcend genres.

The Soul Pop Force Is Strong With Lukas

Another super soulful number soars with track “Promise”, which showcases Lukas Graham’s signature voice more than a lot of other tracks – his falsetto range, and original delivery. The song bumps in the tradition of great Gospel R&B, which completely animates my head nods and neck rolls – sort of an automatic response to good music. His voice here is high pitched and surprisingly elastic, able to contort in ways which I am not exactly sure how to define. What does that mean? He is a unique singer. A background chorus comes in at the most pivotal moment, plus there are excellent horn and organ parts which pump up the arrangement. “Stick Around” is interesting for the fact that it seems to be addressed again to his progeny, but I find it to be in fact overly harsh and at the same time overly apologetic. Like, is it really all that deep that this man missed certain moments because he was on the road? My father, by comparison, is a working performing musician who was on the road for much of my childhood, but guess what – it didn’t negatively effect me, my feelings, or my development one iota. Not even one percent. I just felt, at the minimum, proud that he had found a niche of success in an unforgiving career. The basic classical territory of this piano Pop ballad severely holds the song back, and thus, “Stick Around” is by far the most unmemorable track on the album. And then we transition into the funkiest standout on 3 (The Purple Album), a perfect, danceable number that really hips me to the fact of how talented this group is, called “Unhappy”, which is a bit of an oxymoron, because I have a huge happy smile on my face as I groove to such a title.

I Am Satisfied That This More Even More Mature Album Is Stylistically Superior To The Debut

Continuing on with a can’t fail line up of tracks, I am intrigued by the apologetic depth exhibited on “Everything That Isn’t Me”, where Lukas Graham begs forgiveness of his family and loved ones in a genuine way, though I am left with the feeling that he is a good son who can’t stand making mistakes. I certainly wasn’t with him when he was out there joining riots, or selling weed, most likely in Copenhagen (in his words), but I do get the sense that now that he is older and a father, his past, pseudo-misdeeds, are coming back to haunt him. Again though, these are the apologies of a deeply empathic individual who was raised well, it would seem, and is somewhat obsessed with being a perfect son – probably to a fault, as the rather tame confessions reveal. Here, his voice is at its oddest and most compelling, even if the purgatory is a bit overkill. On a revivalist Soul number called “Hold My Hand”, I mostly hear the sort of requisite Pop arrangement that other European artists such as Rag’n’Bone Man are popular for, and though it is a swell track, it is too standard to be very memorable for me. I’d rather just here real American versions from back in the day, than this version, but there are highlights, such as the Southern Gospel backup singing, and Lukas’ fantastic vocals. My biggest caveat here is that his rap-singing cadence is way to similar to Twenty One Pilots. Finally, this wonderful album finishes with a breezy, semi-funky ballad which is chill and satisfactory. I especially love the cool chord changes of “Say Yes (Church Ballad)”, and love the total synthesis here of Pop, Soul, Rock, and even a little bit of Country-Soul. In my assessment, this song strikes me as being stylistically in the middle of the songwriting of both Maroon 5 and Elton John. Listen for yourself and make your own determination – irregardless, you won’t be disappointed with this perfect Pop album.

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Biography

"Lukas Graham"

Active

    2011–present

Label

  • Copenhagen
  • Warner Bros.
  • Then We Take the World

About

Lukas Graham is a Danish pop and soul band. It consists of lead vocalist Lukas Forchhammer, drummer Mark Falgren, and bassist Magnus Larsson. The band released their first album, Lukas Graham, with labels Copenhagen Records and Then We Take the World in 2012. The album peaked at number one on the Danish charts. Their second album was released in 2015 and earned international attention with singles like "Mama Said" and "7 Years", the latter of which topped the singles charts in many major music markets. The self-titled international debut album was officially released in the United States by Warner Bros. Records on 1 April 2016.
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