Album Review: Lindstrøm – Everyone Else Is A Stranger

[Smalltown Supersound; 2023]

There’s much to be said for a musician just doing what they do best. Though Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has had a wide and varied career since appearing on the scene almost 20 years ago, at the heart of all his music was a skill of capturing dancey astral grooves that soared and weaved about bright planets and sparkling stars. “The king of space disco” (as The New Yorker once labelled him) has many friends in the field and hasn’t shied away from trying to merge his own brand of electronica with their style; to date he has three records with fellow Norwegian producer Prins Thomas and one curious collaborative offshoot with Todd Rundgren and Emil Nikolaisen.

Lindstrøm’s latest album, Everyone Else is a Stranger, is something of a return to what he knows and does best. Four tracks that each average to around 10 minutes long, full of voyages into new galaxies that show what he can do when just left to vibe into space. While it isn’t on par with his greatest records (namely Where You Go I Go Too) it’s roughly as good as any of his other solid records. 

Opening duo “Syreen” and “Nightswim” make for a handsome first suite. “Syreen” sets the stage with an elastic pulse where Lindstrøm threads in some sweet Balearic guitar notes, making for a late-afternoon summertime jam. It’s a little faded by sunlight, but carries you comfortably into the dusk and the track’s nocturnal counterpart. “Nightswim” drives the groove into bass-ier territory, featuring one of those magical chord sequences on synth that Lindstrøm knows how to make the most of. The track’s most memorable features though are the moments it steps outside the box: washes of choral vocals that add a haunted air, pummelling drums like a supernova exploding, and samples of the old Solina String-Ensemble (which has been a staple of his music since his debut) that gives the track’s breakdown a regal quality.

It’s the album’s B-side where Lindstrøm paints with his most interesting colours, though. “The Rind” offers up a neon glow over the tar black synth tone. It’s not the easiest jam to just fall into and love, but it has the marks of Lindstrøm trying to evoke mood over movement. Keys ascend up the scale before some jagged strings add to the vortex and see out the track. Come the beginning of the final movement “Everyone Else is a Stranger”, the energy is calmer, mellotron notes burbling over chattering drum machines. Backtracked vocal clips usher in the track’s gradual slowing down, stopping off in a thoughtful guitar break and reversed effects on the way. Flutes, percussive clatter, and glitchy electronic noises come out of the exhaust as the track trundles slowly to a stop. 

Fans of Lindstrøm’s music will likely have a favoured side of the record depending on what style of the Norwegian’s output they typically go for. While the latter half veers into more experimental territory without ever unravelling completely, the first two tracks are undeniably a more instantly appealing sugar hit of space disco. For Lindstrøm himself it seems like business as usual, grooving out to what feels right, following a melody to a new space, and not feeling confined by time. Everyone Else is a Stranger might hook in a few new fans, but they will find better work with further exploration into Lindstrøm’s discography. For everyone else, all you need to know is that it’s just Lindstrøm doing what he does best, which is no bad thing from space disco royalty.