Published November 9, 2015
Formed in 1978, Fræbbblarnir is considered one of Iceland’s first punk rock bands, paving the way for the great punk wave of the early 80s. There’s a memorable moment in ‘Rokk í Reykjavík’, director Friðrik Þór’s fabled document of the fledgling Reykjavík punk scene, where Fræbblarnir shock the whole nation by singing very graphically about the act of fucking in a song called “Í nótt” (“Tonight”—sample lyric: “Tonight, I’m going to fuck you tonight…”). Fræbblarnir called it quits in 1983, but reformed in 1996 when Bad Taste released a compilation of their early recordings to great acclaim—and nineteen years later, they’re still going strong.
Fræbblarnir’s newest LP is called ‘Í hnotskurn’ (“In a nutshell”) and is their ninth release (and fifth full-length). It includes twelve original songs, some in English and others in Icelandic. To the unacquainted, Valli’s voice is the first thing that stands out in Fræbblarnir’s sound. At first listen, he sounds like a mix of David Byrne and Joey Ramone, yet with his own intonations and accents (that to me often sounds like that of a mental patient’s—I mean this in the best possible way, as a huge compliment).
Through the essential girlie backing vocals of one Iðunn, the overall sound is rendered simultaneously softer—and weirder. Fræbblarnir have always possessed strong songwriting skills, and this album bears the fact good witness, with catchy choruses and harsh guitars coming together in especially pleasant combinations. My favorite song is the wonderfully eccentric country-punk rocker “Bugging Leo,” which reminds me of one of my favorite Icelandic bands, Texas Jesús.