There are few rules when writing music reviews. First, don’t plagiarize (check). Second, don’t write in the first person (about to be unchecked). Third, don’t expose personal ignorance about the song, the video or the band (checkmark is missing in action).
So here we go. I don’t know exactly what to make of the song/video “Captain Awkward” by Norwegian band Moron Police. I don’t understand the lyrics. I don’t see how the video fits with the lyrics. I just don’t know…
I didn’t steal that line. One out of three ain’t bad.
The song itself is catchy and remarkable, the result of 10 years of work by singer/guitarist/writer Sondre Skollevoll. It is definitely Prog, starting with a jazzy electric piano riff that becomes pinball machine music as the drums enter. Then everybody joins in an uptempo rocker featuring keyboardist Lars Bjorkness. Drummer Thore Omland Pettersen and bassist Christian Fredrik Steen keep a steady foundation—heck, what they’re doing would fit a fair number of metal songs. But the Bjorkness’ synths provide an uptempo, even breezy lead.
Then things get messy. Skollevoll joins the maelstrom with “pure train of thought” lyrics. He calls them “nonsensical.” I agree, wholeheartedly. I mean, check this out.
“…Going to the movies,
going to the mountain,
I don’t wanna be de la dut dut.
Everybody knows it, I don’t care.
And if you go out,
If you take that movie, man,
I don’t wanna be de la dut dut.
Everybody knows it, I don’t care…”
The “de la dut dut” parts sound like your basic scatting, which in a Prog environment really stands out. It feels like it’s in some strange time signature; Skollevoll says he’s not sure about the time, but he thinks the click track was set at 4/4. As the lyrics suggest, Sodre doesn’t much care as long as it feels good.
From that point, the song goes into an anthemic chorus that points back to the introductory section—and then back into the strange musical phrase again (how does Skollevoll get his tongue to move so fast on that scatting?).
But they ain’t done yet.
An instrumental break has a klezmer sound—at a slightly faster tempo. Yeah, I know—Norwegian klezmer. Just go with me on this. And you’ll need to be flexible, because “Captain Awkward” then moves into a power ballad part. Musically and lyrically, this refers back to earlier songs on the album as well as to what is coming up (I told you this was Prog). And it is beautiful, allowing Skollevoll to show a different and impressive side to his vocal range.
Then Bjorkness’ keys lead the way back to the original theme. This then fades out, and a single acoustic guitar closes things. That’s a world of stuff and emotions in 5:12.
And then there’s the video—which was done separate from the song and seemingly has no relation to the lyrics. In animated fashion, it follows the journey of a small Viking boat as it crosses the sea. We don’t know who is on board. But it has various adventures: freeing a whale from a net, sinking in a huge storm (only to be rescued by the same whale), zapping oil derricks with some magical beam emitted from the prow, and finally getting home to a single, solitary house on the beach. Only then do we see that the sailor is a young lady, and she is welcomed back by (I assume) a Nordic husband and child. It’s actually pretty cool, and it meshes well with the music—even if the two aren’t really connected.
Skollevoll says that the new album, A Boat on the Sea, is a change in direction for Moron Police. Their earlier stuff is harder, less Proggy. And on occasion, the past catalogue includes some songs that you wouldn’t play for your mother (or your grandma, who is the subject of a really nasty song title). But Sondre is a guy who goes with his gut—if it feels good, do it, and his heart says this is where he is at this time.
Frankly, I like where the band is going. There’s more musicality and impressive musicianship. There are hooks galore. And the nonsensical lyrics? Heck, Jon Anderson of YES has made a career out of strange wordplay.
“Captain Awkward” is a great song and fascinating video. That’s the bottom line. And I’ve just broken two of the three rules of writing reviews. But as Sondre Skollevoll says, “I don’t care.”
MORON POLICE are:
- Sondre Skollevoll / Vocals, Guitars, Additional Keyboards, Percussion
- Lars Bjørknes / Keyboards, Grand Piano, Hammond Organ, Percussion
- Thore Omland Pettersen / Drums
- Christian Frederik Steen / Bass