Lukas Graham, “3 (The Purple Album)” (Warner Bros.)
The new Lukas Graham album opens with the band attending funerals of their friends and the lead singer offering this hope for survivors: “I pray you won’t reach for that rope.” Things don’t get much happier from there for the Danish band.
Frontman Lukas Forchhammer, whose optimistic “7 Years” was a huge hit in 2016, has crafted an album of regret and moodiness with the 10-track “3 (The Purple Album),” a record also largely shorn of the upbeat tempos and hip-hop elements that made his last album so successful. This is a truly melancholy Dane.
Many of the tracks are simple piano-driven sentimental ballads that employ religious imagery and extend his love for leaning on gospel. They might be well-constructed but none are overly exciting. It turns out that fun songs like “Mama Said” from the last album masked a sensitive balladeer.
Much has changed in Forchhammer’s life in the past few years — his father’s death, the birth of a daughter and Grammy nominations — and all that is baked into the album. He’s looking back a lot — and not always happily. One song is even titled “Unhappy.” It’s one of the most upbeat, seriously.
On “Everything That Isn’t Me” — a swelling, orchestral-backed ballad that’s designed to get us to wave our lighters in the air — Forchhammer, in his trademark rap-like cadence, apologizes for not being a better brother, son and lover. “I could apologize forever,” he sings. Elsewhere, Forchhammer often laments being away on the lonely road — “Is it worth it when daddy can’t dry your tears?” he sings in “Lullaby.”
When he looks up, Forchhammer doesn’t see humanity doing much better, with the band suggesting that “If life’s another game of chess/We lost a couple pieces” on “You’re Not the Only One (Redemption Song),” which mourns Bob Marley and John Lennon.
Even the album’s name and purple-painted cover — a nude woman surrounded by open bottles — seems to indicate a cool, glum bent from the band this time. Forchhammer is clearly working out a lot of personal stuff on “3,” but it’s an album that largely leaves the listener, well, bummed out.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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