Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden

I Get Along Without You Very Well

Thrill Jockey • 2022

What happens when two musicians from backgrounds ranging from the earnest to the adventurous join forces to make pop?  It depends on the people involved.  In the case of the Swedes Ellen Arkbro, known for her drone organ compositions, and Johan Graden, who also plays jazz as a pianist, as well as other instruments, the decision to venture into zones far removed from their own everyday lives was a good one.  What the two, with discreet support from brass, bass and occasional drums, have to offer in terms of pop designs sounds excitingly accessible.  Very introspective and catchy in an unspent way, the two go to work, the tempo is so slow that the melodies are almost consistently stretched, while the suspense is maintained at all times without any discernible effort.  Right at the beginning, for example, with the pleasurably dragged-out »Close«, it’s hard to imagine not being enchanted by this inexorably presented longing.  Ellen Arkbro, who has still to perform as a singer on her solo works, takes a step back with her voice, remaining just present enough to not end up in hushed mannerism.  »I Get Along Without You Very Well« will open the ears of anyone who is weary of pop in general without force.