Frida Hyvönen Until Death Comes

Originally released on the Concretes’ Licking Fingers label last year, this piano playing Swede’s debut further convinces me that her country is the hottest bed in the world for music right now. But that’s about as warm as things get, because Hyvönen’s minimalist turn at the piano for the most part feels more like a Swedish winter than summer. Though not exclusively married to her choice instrument, whenever any others enter the picture it’s as suitable as a racist joke, like with "Come Another Night.” Oddly enough, that song contains the only real flash of optimism over the course of the record, as a bubbly Spector-ified group wonderfully escorts her through the motions. Unfortunately, that’s not her creative purpose, so despite its loveliness the one-off gets lost in her personal remembrance. (Though you have to hope she’ll perk up and try this approach more often.) For the most part, it’s Hyvönen’s lyrical depth and that divine yet dispirited voice that draws you in. Her words reveal a need to fill an empty void inside; she paints awkward but intriguing portraits that detail her teenage lust (or lack thereof), physical and emotional insecurities and adorably ambiguous cravings. Until Death Comes shares a melancholy shimmer with countryman and tour mate Jens Lekman. It may lack the orchestral ambitions of her peer, but what she lacks in that department she makes up for with her exquisitely hushed aspirations. (Secretly Canadian)