Morabeza Tobacco’s “TTYL” has been on repeat in my playlists for more than a year now… there is something deliciously weird and familiar about it: hearing it feels inexplicably like coming home, being underwater in a warm bath, on a trip of melancholic detachment and profound rapture. Of course I had to write about their album!
Their looks come right out of a Cuban bar in the late 70’s, their music is a curious mixture of early 80’s disco glam and current lo-fi bedroompop … with deliberate flaws and oddities to create, as they say, an “analogue air which gives it a nostalgic warmth, an old, frayed-VHS charm“. You have to be perceptive though, because some of the songs might sound very similar to a lot of other dreamwave acts. On closer listen for attention to detail, you will find out why they are just a tad more quirky, and have a unique vibe of their own.
Morabeza Tobak happens to be a small tobacco store in Stockholm, Sweden. The duo members Gustav Jennefors and Vanilla Stillefors borrowed the name, adapting the spelling slightly. They met when Gustav attended Vanilla‘s DJ set at an underground club in Norrköping. Introductions were made, songs were swapped online and they decided that their shared musical taste made collaboration seem a worthwhile endeavour. Out of that collaboration came the first single “TTYL”, a song that ended up having millions of streams and features on blogs . This also landed their debut gig, making them 1 of 5 Swedish bands playing SXSW. “TTYL“was followed by the more up-tempo “Defenders of The Glam” and later on by “Ally McBeal” and “Orinoco”. The self-titled debut album has been released very recently.
Besides “TTYL“, one of the other highlights of the album, is “A Little Longer“. Starting off with a funky bass-line groove à la Men I Trust, underpinned by Gustav‘s vocals coming from somewhere deep down the telephone-line, one suspects nothing out of the ordinary. But then Vanilla‘s mellifluous, soulful voice draws us in before the disco drama kicks in and starts dragging us along a emotional-rollercoaster dialogue of layered, perfectly timed, contrasting boy/girl vocals. You can totally picture the scene here: they just split up, she is on the dance-floor with her friends pretending to enjoy herself, glancing over her shoulder at him at the bar, drinking more than he should. This is the internal talk they will never have… all too compelling to be gimmicky!
“Almost Home“, equally conjures up pictures. This time of a mid-night taxi ride home: ethereal and surreal, near-flat guitar chords, eerie keys emphasise distorted images behind the dark, rainy windows, Vanilla‘s voice balmy and detached. Once again the theme is about in the inability to express feelings: “we are almost home, and I am too stoned to show you how I feel…” “Rene” is a calming and hypnotising instrumental designed to be a soundtrack to an 80′ sitcom or a train-ride to nowhere on the brink to start a new life. Pure poetry!
Did I say sitcom soundtrack? The sound-track based tearjerker “Ally McBeal” brings back memories of the 90’s “law-drama sprinkled with magic-realism” that I watched religiously at the time, but the name is basically where the comparisons end. “Ally McBeal” is a melancholic psychey chill-wave track that seems to be all about nostalgia: high-school day-dreams of an alienated friendship seen through tattered VHS images. “Forever” is not the last track but it should have been, as it is the perfect ending to this album, a washed-out theme to a lucid dream in which the protagonists finally find each other and walk off into a pale sunset… towards a future unknown…
For Lovers of: Men I Trust, Secret Attraction, Emmet Kai