Believe it or not, MØL – the dashing Danish dudes in pink Hawaiian short sleeve shirts in the picture above – are photophobic, at least according to the lead single from their long-awaited sophomore LP, DIORAMA, which is arriving on November 5. Now, that article-leding quip makes sense if, like me, you assumed ‘photophobia’ meant you had an irrational, pathological fear of having your photo taken. Turns out it’s extreme light sensitivity. Which makes more sense given the song’s lyrics, the emotional heft of the music and vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf throat-ruining performance. On the song, he says:
“‘Photophobic’ is centred around denial and self-deception. Fear of exposure of one’s past. The song encapsulates the dread of forcefully venturing through the painful but nonetheless important places of one self and your history.”
The three years since the Aarhus blackgaze quintet’s critically adored debut, JORD, have seen a lot of change, not least the move to Nuclear Blast, but the band’s expertly calibrated balance of black metal’s frostbitten ferociousness and shoegaze’s gossamer loveliness remains intact on “Photophobic”. Blast beats are interspersed between chugging riffs, anthemic choruses and, in a shockingly gorgeous guest vocal over shimmering guitar leads.
Whilst their forebears in Deafheaven seemingly double down on staring at their feet, MØL are back to deliver all the violent catharsis and beautiful relief of the Californian band in refreshingly concise runtimes, and with an even greater ear for a catchily pummeling/soothing arrangement.
Click on the video below to simultaneously embrace the darkness and get swallowed by the light. Or listen to “Photophobic” on streaming platforms.