Think about foreign resorts. For many, a budget escape from the office grind. For others, something to be avoided, for reasons moral or cultural. In foreign resorts, in Mexico and the Caribbean, for example, visitors are strongly encouraged not to stray offsite without a guide. These professional entertainers and servants, forced into ridiculous stiff formal uniforms lest they be mistaken for one of us, exist in a state of strained smiles and subtle but present security keeping people both inside and outside the walls. They are fortresses; islands removed from their uniqueness as beautiful, interesting, culturally rich places and are dulled, corporatized. We drink and eat our shame away at the paper thin veil of fairness they afford. We sneak people good tips and can hope only to be good tourists. Never more.
The Foreign Resort, the band, are the opposite of all the confusion, artifice and strain associated with the other sense of the words. Their music, their ideology, and their focus are all full of life and honesty. Questions and criticism. Intelligence and respect. Dripping with authenticity. And musically epic.
There is something foreign about them though. Something wondrous. Instead of place, it’s a sense of time. They exploded into our consciousness, here at DISARM, one autumn day with the genuine feeling of rare, rare discovery that music heads everywhere live for. The treasure at the back of that record bin. The sideways evening where amid a universe of jaded industry types you make a real friend and drop your guard, all the way. The film that makes you laugh, cry, think, and forget your troubles. The impossibly talented band who comes from far away and finds your city worth a stop. The stop being the very next day after you’ve first heard them, stumbled across them on Soundcloud. Meant to be. And for once, we are in the exactly right place and at the right time.
The Foreign Resort are on the forefront of a new sort of boundary-less, border-less, timeless new Post-punk, Darkwave and a label we’d like to restore to glory again, Alternative music. Modern Rock. The music was modern in 1979 and 1983 and 1992 and still is, still ahead of the masses and always outside, above, and going around the mainstream, aside from a few glorious chart anomalies that threaten the status quo of robo-pop once a decade or so. Modern Rock and Post-punk is still modern and is still on the cutting edge, fresh and experimental, mostly uncorruptable, beautifully misunderstood, and so, pure from evil forces. The Foreign Resort’s unique brand of Post-punk is pure and uncut: concerned with real issues and real feelings and real music, and capable of articulating all of this with beauty and excitement. The Danish trio have been active for several years and bring a deep musical vocabulary and an innate feeling of true mission and message that is rare.
As cool as it is to see bands on their early North American tours in the smaller clubs that are essential, as special as it is to actually get to say hello and share a toast and get an album signed, after seeing them even once we knew that we want to forfeit that specialness because The Foreign Resort are destined for the biggest stages, before a sea of their T-shirts, and their music deserves to find the masses who need to know. They need it. People need this. And we are not afraid to say that The Foreign Resort are fresh new musical blood the world needs to save us. Just as Post-punk saved us once before, whatever we called it then. Whatever we call it now. It’s real music with heart, guts, and ragged beauty, the best kind. And they are ready and up to the task, having already shared bills with Slowdive, Swervedriver, DIIV, Minor Victories and Cold Cave. And the strong Alternative music press notices have underscored this truth.
The music speaks for itself, and it speaks well. There are themes of “Suburban Depression” which remind us that there is nothing foreign about the universal feeling of isolation and malaise that exists everywhere people live as hubs of big urban centers. Too many move away and rarely return, cutting themselves off, cocooning themselves and their fragile families from not only the smog and the guns and the crowds, but also the good parts of urban life: the food from many countries. The people different from you. The chance to see great live music any night of the week. There is smart, critical commentary about America from a band who has toured the place and experienced it the only way you can, on a real road trip. America can perhaps only be fairly assessed from the outside, especially these days.
None of these songs and themes are dour or preachy, mind you. The music is transcendent, shimmery, full-bodied (you’d never believe it was a three piece, as instruments are handed back and forth seamlessly, and an impossibly tight drum beat from Morten Hansen keeps the gig moving like a steam train). The messages are delivered in the best way we who know like to get our news, the only way, the only source we trust: in the voice of one of our kind. One of our tribe. Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen’s voice is riveting, with a real range that easily crosses the band’s versatile catalog. It’s the kind of voice of which you never tire, the kind we haven’t heard in a long, long time, especially in our favourite kind of music.
The music has true versatility in tempo and theme. Cohesive, but with an impressive range. “Dead Leaves”, off the band’s full album release New Frontiers, sounds right out of a great b-side from the early synth-pop giants, deeply sad lyrics held up by a delicate riff that is intoxicating. It could slip into an 80s John Hughes film, or an indie film of today looking for the 80s feelings we all miss (even those born in the 90s). Brand new single “She is Lost” is an urgent anthem that captures TFR’s range perfectly and gives a taste of just what they are capable of. It is music that deserves to chart. To change the charts. As happens every decade or so, organically, from the ground up, rising from the concrete like steam. From the kids, not the suits telling the kids what to like and what to buy. We used to know to never trust anyone in a suit. And to only trust musicians.
Having had the chance to see The Foreign Resort live twice now (first in November 2016 and this week as they performed two shows at Canadian Music Week at the start of their Canadian tour) (the last in the gorgeously outfitted new location for The Hideout) we can say that you must go and find them. We hope someone will get a few live recordings from the soundboard and add a couple of live tracks to a future release (or video) because as excellent and well mixed as the tracks are their live show has a dark magic of its own and tends to blossom in unexpected ways, the highs higher and the lows deeper, with ease spilling out into pure rock guitar riffs or pulling it back to the delicious control of Post-punk with its sense of angst that is still tough as hell and will not be played (again). Fans will become bigger fans, because it just doesn’t get better than this.
It’s astounding to hear how the songs come to life, how impossibly Joy Division’s / New Order’s legendary, game-changing Peter Hook’s bass sound is right there in the room in the hands of Steffan Petersen (and we know that sound intimately and would never say that lightly) how none of us (save for one brave, lovely, and equally smitten journalist) give into our urge to 80s dance because we didn’t pre-drink and we need those gross and long-gone dry ice machines to swan through and it’s not yet the witching hour. But oh, how we long to. How our silent prayers are answered: we’ve finally heard a band of this moment channel and pay respect to the masters. Fans of The Cure, the deep fans who know the Cure from 1977 to 1984 as well as the later albums, will be drawn to this band and will not be disappointed. Be it popular or obscure, British or American, or an original cocktail made in Denmark, the vault of Post-punk offers endless inspiration. But a great band makes all of that into new shapes.
The future looks bright again.
Jacqueline Howell & Dave MacIntyre