Strangers on a Train / Blank Surface

by Manuela Iwansson

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about

Manuela Iwansson is a force of nature. Beginning as vocalist in now-defunct Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings, Iwansson's solo music harnesses the doomed romance of early 80s post-punk with a leather-bound flourish of late-70s hard-as-nails rock music. No one really believes in Rock 'n' Roll any more, not in these times of eroded faith and disillusionment but we still believe in the redeeming power of the night. Manuela Iwansson's music soundtracks the drama of the nocturne; grimy bars that breathe acrid smoke like veils over lovers parting, the paranoia of the illicit, the thrill of darkness, the transformative power of holding hands against the storm, doomed and righteous. Strangers on a Train surges forward on a taut post-punk beat and aching Cult-like guitar riff, Iwansson's narrator lamenting an ending, stations whirring past her field of vision. The chorus feels like a stadium of fists held aloft in unison, belying the cloying tale, perhaps, of an awkward break up. It's an unabashed anthem caught between leather and lace. On the flip, Blank Surface is a bona fide AA track. Tight drums and an elastic bassline make the song feel like a lost 80's goth pop single, Iwansson's lyrics feel like the self dissolving into a thrilling melancholy, the narrator's very selfhood evaporating with the dry ice. Much of Blank Surface reminds the listener of The Cure mixed with a kind of DIY stadium rock rendered with the perfect charm by Iwansson's vocal performance, a tool which manages to sing of vulnerability with an enviable confidence. Rock n Roll is dead, good riddance; we're creatures of the night.

“Strangers on a Train” and “Blank Surface” were recorded by Martin “Konie” Ehrencrona at Studio Cobra in Stockholm and Joakim Lindberg at Studio Sickan in Malmö, and features Manuela Iwansson on vocals, bass and tambourine, Henrik Palm on guitar, Elias Jungqvist on keys, Hugo Mårtensson on drums and Joakim Lindberg on guitar and vocals."

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released May 22, 2020

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