Published September 1, 2014
Prins Póló, the essentially one-man-band project of Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (Skakkamanage), has a new album out titled ‘Sorrí.’ I’m not sure what the “Sorry” is about, but perhaps it’s an ironic middle finger to those who might not like this very eclectic album.
‘Sorrí’ is a bit of an insider’s album that will likely be more amusing to Icelanders than foreigners. For starters, it’s all in Icelandic, and the melodies flow quickly. It also shows off clever Icelandic rhyme schemes. Prins Póló rhymes words that an English-language native would never dream of, like “sjarma” (“charm”) and “shawarma” (the meat preparation, of course). There’s even wordplay within lines, like the homophones “sígur” and “sýgur” in “Föstudagsmessa” (“Friday Mass”) that create the phrase “the floor is sinking, the music sucks.”
I get the feeling that ‘Sorrí’ is mostly a lot of nonsense, like the lyric in “Bragðarefir”: “If I tell you I have never tasted better lasagne/come now to the dance party.” Prins Póló’s song titles translate to “I’m Coming With The Cream,” “The Beautiful Carpenter,” and the best, “Hamster Charm.” Half of the album is a house party soundtrack, and there’s some quasi-rapping in there too. But the other half showcases brooding synths and more thoughtful lyrics like “the sun sets down for the last time” and “I’m ringing the bells to an ancient paradise.”
The production value of the album is also a little strange. Some songs seem quite lo-fi, with Svavar’s guitar and his voice as nearly the only instruments. Yet, other songs seem ironically overproduced, aiming for Britney Spears glitz while relying only on a Casio keyboard. Icelanders will recognize these retro sound references from the nation’s early punk and pop bands, though foreigners might think it’s just one of those wacky quirks about Icelandic music.
Despite all the irreverence, several songs on ‘Sorrí’ will stand out to even a non-Icelandic speaker, thanks to their catchy rhythmic phrases, infectious hooks, and hummable choruses. And once you can dig into the texts about meeting an old man at the hospital, or comparing someone to a sexy polar bear, or a carpenter riding away on a horse… well, you’ll still be confused, but some of those lyrics make for pretty good tunes.