Un-American Activities
Un-American Activities
Un-American Activities
Molly Nilsson

Un-American Activities

LSSN097X
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Label: Night School 
Release Date: 16th August

There's an alternative universe where Molly Nilsson warped take on pop perfection sees them as the biggest artist in the world. Welcome to that wonderland.

Un-American Activities is the 11th Studio album by Molly Nilsson. Written and recorded entirely on location in California at the former home of writer, poet and early opponent of the National Socialist regime in 1930s Germany, Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife Marta. An album of experimentation, genre-mashing and, above it all, Nilsson’s instantly recognisable melodic skill and empathy, it continues the songwriter’s explorations of power, freedom, oppression and its opposing force, a love unbound.

After accepting an artist residency as part of the Villa Aurora program, Nilsson began work crafting a new album from scratch in a new environment, afforded the freedom, space and time to challenge her practice and take her music into new territory. The resulting work, Un-American Activities, is a love note not only to the artist who was among the very first to be declared an “enemy of the state” by the Nazi regime but also to both the eternal struggle he fought and the human spirit that pervades all of Nilsson’s best work. It is also a double-pointed poison pen letter: a critique of the new forms of oppression wielded by her temporary adopted country of the USA but also an acknowledgement of the promise it always offers but never fulfils.

Along with the novel use of colour and photography in the artwork for Un-American Activities, there are swathes of new techniques, genres and timbres new to Molly Nilsson’s music in evidence, 16 years into her music career. On Jackboots Return is an icicle-cold New Beat track that deals directly with the current situation in Germany and the resurgent Nazi-affiliated AfD. The question the song asks is, what’s the timeframe we’re talking about? Is this the 30s, or somewhere a lot closer to home? The beat is picked up on The Communist Party, Nilsson’s deepest bow to House music, evoking the early 90s Rave pioneers, Belgian 80s music and Vogue-era Madonna. Here the lyrics are direct quotes from the McCarthy-era, anti-Communist pamphlet 100 Things You Should Know About Communism in the U.S.A. The Beauty Of The Duty does to pounding Electro what Nilsson’s last album Extreme did to Metal: subsume it into the Molly Nilsson aesthetic. It goes hard.

While Un-American Activities finds Nilsson experimenting, creating instinctive music on a first-thought-best-
thought basis there are still “classic” Molly moments liberally spread throughout. Excalibur feels like the Molly of old, an absolute star of a chorus refrain smudged with the vaseline of fuzz and hope, Red Telephone is wide-eyed, slathered in reverb and chorus effects, distorted with soaring melody, a heart-tugger that tugs the body upwards to the heavens with each evolving wave. Glistening digital tones wash through the album, providing a Y2K etherealness to Nilsson’s audacious Stars and Stripes reference to Wetcheeks. Perhaps the album’s standout, however, is Palestine (Somewhere Over The Rainbow), which is suffuse with empathy, solidarity and, in referencing the classic socialist-penned canon song from The Wizard Of Oz, speaks directly to the tradition of fighting oppression with full hearts of hope.

 


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