The Netherlands’ Aestrid promise much when stating their influences are Sonic Youth, The Sound and Krautrock. However, their second album ‘BOX’ has a noticeable Scandinavian feel to it. Pounding percussion, chiming guitars, relentless synths and the attractive, yearning falsetto of Bo Menning are the main ingredients and together this quartet serve up a feast of vibrant, modern indie rock.
The emotional outpourings are brought immediately to the surface for the dramatic opener ‘Dover’ and the band rarely let up for an hour’s worth of invention and quality. The title track is another sweeping epic but this time the guitars are more ferocious, whilst ‘Im Einzelgang’ brings back the keyboards and the result is a spectacular, stadium-sized slice of glistening synth rock. Elsewhere, the quiet/loud dynamics of ‘Fair Start – Fire Hill’ demonstrates a thirst for experiment, the two part ‘Oregon’ provides a euphoric centrepiece and they only really begin to slow down for somewhat plodding ‘Northern Line’. After what has gone before, though, the band deserve a breather and the initially gentle but eventually intense ‘Quitsville Trash’ gets the band back on track in some style.
‘BOX’ certainly stands up strongly against those aforementioned Scandinavian connections. They can certainly rival the melodramatic hooks of Mew and the widescreen, swooning pop of A-ha. What is more they are able to maintain interest on a full hour’s worth of material. A splendid, energising record.