I feel kinda sorry for saying this: there’s two of them, they’re very conceptual and delicate, and they got a nice, dancey mojo to them that lets you imagine shows where you might move your feet a bit and take a refreshing sound shower and shampoo with wild flowers and jib. Smerz has come to fill that little spot in our hearts that was left void by CocoRosie: with feminine sensuality and craze thick as maple syrup, packed in impeccable production. No one would expect that viking girls would be so uncannily soft.
It may very well be they’re not de facto, but life sisters. They met in school, when they were 16, a personal bond which will have a great impact in their production: since they can’t be fake with each other, they’re very aware of what they like and what they don’t – and definitely, when the other ain’t quite sure about how it sounds. Speaking of which: Who’s to blame for those delicious, elastic and gummy synth bass in Because? Who does those vibrato, beat repeat laden and shuddering envelopes in Move? No clue as to who is who in the studio, what comes across rather matter-of-factly is that the results give you the goosebumps, making you feel all hot and shivery. In their videos you can catch the same DIY attitude of their tracks: with effortless simplicity, they produce visuals that suit exactly what they want to say.
Photograph by: MADS STIG
Rhythmically, Catharina and Henriette take more of a downtempo-ish approach, nevertheless a pinch of syncope, mechanical drum rolls and drum machine stutters, in addition to a bit of the old digital kicks and claps give them a rather trappy and footwork feel, which is perfectly fashionable ATM. Samples pushed through a vinyl simulation filter, wet with reverbs and delays hint some dubstep and future garage. So let’s say they go in the “not quite fitting any genre” aisle, but also cristal-clearly pop: again, quite in vogue.
We can intuit much of their themes if we take a look at their name: Smerz, being an elision of the very german Herzchmerz (heartache), which looks nice with some other hues of the many kraut ways to feel hurt, like the likeable and well known Weltenschmerz (world-wearyness). Their lyrical style goes along the way of the previously mentioned freak-folk duo, Grimes’ cloudy and intoxicated singing and forever-nostalgic-forever-standing Electroclash. With a typical pop palette of depressive relationships, between the ‘better-than-nothing’s, the ‘yeah, well’s and the frequent abandonment that is felt under a skin that is not lacking in company: that doubt that is immediately invoked when you use the phrase “being happy”.
Going strong for two years, the girls have managed to get real successful. Little ago, they signed with XL for their first EP on July. They’ve played live in a good part of Europe and a couple of times at the States. Watching them pull off their show is simply marvellous, as Catharina fiddles with knobs and faders shaking her head, floating in a trance, and Henrietta slithers deliciously like a snake-woman of sorts, pouring her silky voice into our enthralled ears.