- Tom H
Dead People | We Love (debut album)
In April 2021, indie/electronic band Dead People launched its Instagram account with a single, mysterious post that read: "We are the dead. We are the people. We are family." A few days later, the band released their debut single, "Safety Lines" with little fanfare, publicity or promotion. No other information was offered at the time - no names, no faces. Only that the band was comprised of a mother and her two sons who made moody, melodic electronic music.
The mysterious "mother and sons" band facade continued throughout the following year as Dead People continued to release several new singles ("Black Hole," "Stay Dead" and "Life Is Good"). Eerie images and short video clips of mother reading fan mail, posts of random thoughts, and even a music video for "Stay Dead" were posted on their social media pages. During the period of secrecy, Dead People also wrote the beautiful soundtrack to the post-apocalyptic Netflix film Black Crab, which stars Noomi Rapace and is directed by Adam Berg. The film and soundtrack included the original song and Dead People fan favorite "Stay Dead."
It was only in conjuction with Dead People's fourth single release ("River") in October 2022 - nearly a year and a half (!) after Dead People first surfaced - that the true identities of the band members were revealed. The mother and her two sons were not a blood family at all, but rather a musical family: Anna Ternheim, Joakim Berg and Malcolm Pardon. According to a recent press release, the band kept their real identities secret from the time of their first single release until late 2022 in order to work as undisturbed and off-the-radar as possible.
That is when Dead People popped onto my musical radar. How did they ever manage to keep this incredible project so unassuming and low-key for so long? I've been a longtime fan of both Anna Ternheim and Joakim Berg (and his band Kent). Had I stumbled upon any of the single releases that were just sitting out there on Spotify and other streaming platforms, I'm sure I would have immediately recognized Anna's voice.
For readers not familiar with the members, Anna Ternheim is a successful Swedish alt/folk singer-songwriter who rose to fame in 2004 with her debut single "To Be Gone" and album Somebody Outside. Joakim Berg is the voice of the band Kent, who called it quits in 2016 to the dismay of countless fans and followers, after their nearly 20-year reign as Sweden's greatest rock/pop band. Malcolm Pardon was a bassist in the 90's British band Kinky Machine, a member of the Swedish ska group Girlsmen, and has recorded electronic music as Roll The Dice.
The band's debut album, We Love, is written, arranged and produced by the band themselves. Its ten tracks are influenced by 80's synth-pop, 90's techno, 00's bubblegum pop, 10's electro and the current decade's doomsday vibe of global strife. I hear the songwriting styles of both Anna Ternheim and Joakim Berg within the captivating songs of this outstanding album. We Love features an appealing balance of songs that are somber and contemplative ("Stay Dead,"Black Hole," "You Won't Make It"), hopeful ("River," "We All Fall"), and upbeat ("Life Is Good," "Kiss This Goodbye"). We Love is a truly engaging and immersive listening experience from start to finish.
The band comments on how the project and album came to life: "We began writing We Love back in 2018. We've lived in different places, but once all three of us were in the same city, we've always found time to write music together. Most of the material was written and recorded in Stockholm and also in Berlin during a scorching hot summer week. The songs are inspired by California sunsets, Diane Arbus photos and the fact that nothing lasts forever."
In addition to the singles and debut album, be sure to check out the handful of mysterious clips and cinematic videos on Dead People's YouTube channel. I'd also highly recommend checking out ALL of Anna Ternheim's own music catalog - she's one of my mainstay listens. And if you're up for some non-English lyrics with some of the best songwriting you'll ever take in, check out any of the Kent catalog of albums, as well as Joakim Berg's recent debut solo album, Jag Fortsätter Glömma (I Keep Forgetting). Malcolm Pardon's most recent album, Hello Death, is definitely worth checking out as well.
For more information about Dead People, follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), check out their videos on YouTube, and find their music on Spotify, TIDAL, SoundCloud, and Apple Music.