Even though This Is for the White in Your Eyes, the full-length debut by Danish collective Choir of Young Believers, is teeming with instruments—voices, pianos, synthesizers, banjos, an orchestra’s ransom in strings and French horns—it’s not the arrangements that dominate so much as the images they conjure. Snow-flecked mountaintops, deserted city streets, ghost-filled churches, a final kiss between estranged lovers—this is the emotional terrain trod by Jannis Joya Makrigiannis and his Choir of Young Believers. This Is for the White in Your Eyes is an album of orchestral indie-pop, but its artistic scope extends beyond melody and harmony: Choir of Young Believers paint cinematic tableaux, with Jannis cast as the silvery-voiced narrator.
Jannis produced This Is for the White in Your Eyes with his old friends and collaborators Anders Rhedin and Fridolin, constructing cavernous sound-worlds around his own skeletal guitar and piano compositions. (“I don’t have a computer, so I almost never record demos,” Jannis says.) The song cycle begins on a somber note with the lonely piano atmospherics of “Hollow Talk,” a dirge that builds towards a climax of machine-gun snares and sneering children’s choir. It’s followed by the soaring balladry of “Next Summer” and the anthemic single, “Action/Reaction.” Jannis’ voice is something to behold—a reverb-slicked, bell-like tenor in the Neil Young mold—and his golden pipes haunt the album, floating over “Under the Moon” like a celestial body, riding the thundering piano notes of “Claustrophobia,” and rippling on the horizon of the country-tinged “Why Must It Always Be this Way.” And yet, for all of the record’s orchestral grandeur, there’s an icy Nordic remove running through This Is for the White in Your Eyes that keeps the overflowing emotions in check. In Choir of Young Believers’ hands, even the sweetest melodies carry a hollow, solitary mood that lingers long after the music has stopped.
When listening to Denmark’s Choir of Young Believers, it’s hard not to imagine an army of white-clad singers with arms outstretched, their voices raised in holy polyphony—in fact...check out Choir of Young Believers's page and other releases