It is always exciting when a young band is able to take inspiration from what has come before and create something that’s wholly unique and completely their own. Norway’s Team Me is one of those rare bands and on their debut album To the Treetops! they deliver their own version of indie pop, combining a large and dramatic soundscape with the intimacy one associates with independent music.
The six-piece (at the recording of the album at least; vocalist/keyboardist Synne Øverland Knudsen has since left the band) manage to create a record that’s bursting with joy, while still being tender. There’s a sense of excitement throughout the record that immediately draws the listener in on opening track “Riding My Bicycle (From Ragnvalsbekken To Sorkedalen)” – quite a mouthful there – and does not let go until the last notes of “Daggers” trails away.
Throughout the record Team Me leader Marius Drogsås Hagen’s amazing ear for a pop tune is ever-present as almost every track is very immediate and accessible – yet often far from simplistic. A fine example of this is “Patrick Wolf & Daniel Johns” ; two minutes forty-eight seconds of pop bliss, but at the same time it is musically inventive and heavily layered. It is a very impressive feat to balance this level of complexity with the immediacy of pop music while at the same time not sounding overtly commercial. Team Me succeeds every step of the way.
To the Treetops! is just over fifty minutes of swirling and affecting pop music; dramatic and complex but charmingly simple and genuine at the same time. The finest example of Team Me’s impressive sense of how to make a catchy pop song into something more is found on the second track of the album, and pre-album single, “Show Me.” It’s a marvelous pop song and one of the strongest and most affecting ones I’ve heard in a long time – possibly because it does not sound like the band are trying to be catchy. It comes naturally.
The record shows that Team Me is one of the most exciting bands to come out in some time and the record is a success at almost every level. In many ways To the Treetops! is the ultimate indie pop record – both big and dramatic while always intimate and tender, it invites you in with immediately accessible hooks and keeps you listening with new discoveries revealing themselves only upon repeated listens. If they can keep this up Team Me are set to become one of the most important indie acts of the coming years, and they could get big. Very big.