White Willow - The Future Hopes album review

Progressive pop? Symphonic hard rock? Folkish trip hop? All of the above. And more

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Their career might now be over two decades long with various periods of silence and many line-up hiccups, but guitarist and sole founding member Jacob Holm-Lupo has once again reinvented White Willow.

Their first album in six years is remarkable because it fuses in one place all their past phases (folk, symphonic hard rock, prog) while also opening a door to the future. Their latest recruit, Norwegian Top 10 pop artist Venke Knutson, has the right sensibility and eeriness to allow the shorter and more accessible material such as Silver, Hold or the Björk-meets-Steven-Wilson title track to take us somewhere warm and cosy. Yet she’s also smart enough to move aside on the full-on prog tracks In Dim Days and A Scarred View where former Änglagård drummer Mattias Olsson and returning member/keyboard wizard Lars Fredrik Frøislie (from Wobbler) take the driver’s seat. The latter’s role here is essential because although he once again performs through a range of vintage instruments to die for, his approach openly takes inspiration from the current subtle and dreamlike synthwave sound, thus distilling a dark atmosphere that perfectly counterbalances Knutson’s angelic voice.