Although he hasn't released anything under his long-time pseudonym Manual for some time now, Jonas Munk has still managed to keep himself quite busy creating music for the past couple years now. In addition to being in the psych/prog/classic rock group Causa Sui, he's also now had a major hand in this debut release from Danish dreampop band Rumskib. Along with Keith Canisius (guitars, vocals, production) and Tine Louise Kortermand (singer), Munk contributed beat programming, electronics, and synth.
Considering the lighter directions that Munk went on his last album (Azure Vista) as Manual, Rumskib actually seems like the perfect next step. With soaring, male/female vocals, multiple layers of guitars, synths, electronics, and programmed beats, it's a woozy headtrip of music that calls to mind the ethereal (and yes, sometimes queasy in a good way) music of everyone from Curve to Lush and the Cocteau Twins. It's also a bit cheesy, in an 80s movie soundtrack sort of way, but it actually suits the release pretty well, giving it a nostalgic feel that helps the group stick out from a lot of the overly-serious groups creating similar music.
The album opens with a duo of songs that are among the best on the entire release, showing off their intensely-layered sonics while keeping things soaring. "Hearts On Fire" starts it all off with dizzying strums of guitar, about five cascading layers of synths, glitchy beat programming, and multiple layers of vocals that are basically just another texture in the swirling mix. "Springtime" is the pop gem of the three, and I think one would be hard pressed to find anyone who likes this kind of music who doesn't get a bit weak in the knees upon hearing it. With a more standard verse/chorus structure, great vocal harmonies, and another sparkling wall-of-sound slew of instrumentation, it's perfectly evocative of the bright title.
From there out, the album is a bit more up and down in terms of consistency, with the overlong "Dreampoppers Tribute" coasting by for almost five minutes before a nice conclusion helps to save it a bit, while "Girl Afraid" contains many of the same elements as earlier tracks, but feels a bit more stolid alongside some of the more expansive and expressive efforts. Along the way, there are several instrumentals that dip into more ambient fare and help to segment the release a bit, while "Sneak" gets a bit more sparse and poppy, channeling the 80s shimmer pop feel almost perfectly before exploding with louder sections. While it's not consistently thrilling, Rumskib have created a nice little release that at least partially renews my faith in dreampop.