Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist is the debut album from BSÍ, one of Iceland’s most unconventional exports in recent years. The album follows a successful year for Silla Thorarensen (drums and vocals) and Julius Pollux Rothlaender (bass guitar and toe-synths), who have released a string of singles to wide acclaim as well as performing for the digital editions of Iceland Airwaves and Eurosonic.
The album’s unique title was inspired by a slogan that the band discovered at a punk festival where they spotted a t-shirt of a football fan club promoting the importance of mental health. Split between five songs low-key heartbreak melancholy and five songs riot grrrl lofi-cute-punk, Sometimes Depressed… directs sorrow and the raw energy of joy and anger to two distinctly different sides.
Warping synth lines and distant, delayed guitars create an ominous opening in “My Lovely” while Thorarensen’s pleading to “come back to me” imbue the track’s atmosphere with dollops of melancholy. Distorted guitars and monotonous vocals up the tempo with an edgy energy in “TAL 11” before “Old Moon” brings things back down to earth again with a hazy, Mazzy Star-like aura.
“Were you ever here with me?” ponders Thorarensen on “Uncouple,” before “25Lue” marks the end of the Sometimes depressed… side of the album with staccato vocals and reverb-laden synth lines creating an ’80s, almost Tears for Fears-esque soundscape.
Any form of depression is knocked out the ballpark by the time you reach the album’s other side. The winter-summer party of “Vesturbæjar Beach” opens proceedings, and last month we described the track as fun-loving and infectiously danceable. Following track “Feela það” is bold and assertive — think Wolf Alice “Yuk Foo” vibes — while “My knee against kyriarchy” offers the most topical track on the album: its an ode to arms from BSÍ to smash all forms of kyriarchy, including sexism, racism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia.
The album’s concluding two tracks “Dónakallalagið” and “Alltaf alltaf stundum alltaf” flow with swagger and cool confidence. Thorarensen unleashes some Kathleen Hanna-influenced vocal screams among fiery drums and distorted guitars before post-punk drums and basslines take over in the final track, which translates as Always Always Sometimes Always, featuring what sounds like a heated snippet of a voicemail message in Icelandic.
Many bands over recent years have opted to buck the trend of traditional album releases in order for more unique styles that befit their personal styles. With BSÍ, this is also definitely the case.
Not only have the Icelandic duo come up with one of the best album titles you’re likely to read for years to come, they’ve opened up the dual sides of their personality on this split album with character and flair in equal measure.