December 13, 2012

Tracks: Shanghai Lulu - Letters / Winterland

Danish all-girl band releases two delightful winter songs
with videos (they also have a pretty wonderful EP for sale)

Shanghai Lulu sounds like they should be on this Monday's "Winter Whisper" mix. The four ladies hail from Copenhagen and sound like the sweetest snow-kissed lullaby. They mostly write songs about "postcards and sour oranges, restless nights and bright mornings; about love and jealousy, and the big and rowdy world outside the window." This past summer they released their first EP Oh, What A Day, and this holiday season they've created something special for all of us – two lovely songs "Letters" and "Winterland" accompanied with music videos for each. These songs were created as a "letter exchange" for when the band's vocalist Elise Ligaard studied in Greenland whilst the rest of the band remained in Denmark.

"Letters" is a calming song that makes me think of the inside of a snow globe. Ligaard's vocals carry the song to a meditative place. The footage for "Letters" is quite beautiful, flowers sprout and blossom in all sorts of directions under a hazy moonlight, and we're left to revel in the passing of time and the small wonders of life. The second track in the suite, "Winterland," seems like a dark holiday song to me. While there are no lyrics that suggest this is a holiday song, the minimalistic drums and echoing bells make it appear this way. This track's footage was taken from "Hedgehog in the Fog," a 1975 Russian cartoon, and definitely adds to the eerie and magical forest that I imagine while listening to this.

Listen to new track "Letters" below:

And "Winterland":

Emily on Oh, What A Day EP:

When I lived in Copenhagen earlier this year, I used to explain the city to my friends and family at home as kind of a fairy tale world. There were colorful buildings that were hundreds of years old, greening statues hidden all over the city, winding canals, and castles with vast gardens in the middle or just outside of the city. Once the long winter gave way to spring, I spent hours outside exploring different neighborhoods and finding everything from parks with little trampolines to beautiful secret courtyards to a sculpture buried underwater. Shanghai Lulu's music reminds me of the subdued mysteriousness of discovering an unfamiliar city, with Ligaard's vocals drifting over the sound of intricate instrumentals. As if I needed another reason to miss Copenhagen everyday.

Oh, What A Day is a an outstanding piece of minimalist pop that's reminiscent of artists such as Au Revoir Simone and Julia Holter. While Copenhagen might be known in America as a city with a booming punk scene, Shanghai Lulu proves that delicate dream pop is alive and well in Scandinavia. The opening track, "Return to the Stars", begins quietly with tinkering builds but begins to layer on itself throughout the song to set the stage for the rest of the album. Throughout the EP, the four are able to prove their range in experimenting with sound by using few instruments to create a distinct but similar tone on each song. The second track, "Rain", is a piece that relies more on classical piano but manages to create a swooping soundscape. While the song, "Sweety", which employs a male vocalist as well, sounds like it could have been a Casiotone for the Painfully Alone song without the electronic element. The final song, which is the title track, is a powerful end to the album by constantly fluctuating between haunting vocals and booming drums, accordion, and piano. Oh, What a Day is a release unlike much music that's being produced right now, in Copenhagen or anywhere else in the world.

Shanghai Lulu has made their music free for stream and download here.
For physical copies of their Oh, What A Day EP, contact

Written by Diana Cirullo