Eerie, dark electronica. Ambient soundscapes. Melancholic vocals. Mighty Bear’s new EP, Einn, might just be the official soundtrack for this gloomy Icelandic summer.
The sun’s never really come out, and the rain hasn’t really stopped. In this anticlimactic climate, it feels downright wrong to listen to tracks like Cardi B’s “I like it” or Childish Gambino’s “Summertime Magic” to the accompaniment of a grey-sky. In Iceland, we need a soundtrack that befits this seemingly disconsolate summer: we need Einn.
The roughly 10-minute EP features four previously unreleased tracks by the masked musician who made his debut at Iceland Airwaves in 2017, where he introduced the country to his abstract electropop in a deluge of glitter and gold.
The title was chosen for its ambiguity. In Icelandic, einn means either ‘one’ — this is Mighty Bear’s first and only EP — or it can mean alone. Earnest lyrics like “‘ég vil ekki sakna þín” (I don’t want to miss you,”) find their way inside of songs like Burt (“Away”). Mighty Bear’s personal ensemble offers context to content: he conceals himself behind elaborate masks, drapes himself in flowing capes as if hiding his body. The reality is that he is singularly visible in his jewelled crowns, masks, wigs, and towering heels.
And to accompany his tempestuous dress, Mighty Bear’s concerts are characterized by a stunning visual performance: videos played in the background that tonally align with the off-kilter celebration of singularity.
The album’s title song, Einn, begins with a loop of voices asking, “What frightens you?”. Those who have seen Mighty perform (perhaps at this year’s Secret Solstice Festival) can envision the gargantuan black and white looping video that would undoubtedly accompany this one minute intro. The song Einn sets the tone for the whole EP, with haunting synth soundscapes and an unsettling chorus of voices.
The second song, Burt, expresses a longing — perhaps for the sun, probably for a person — cowled in a feeling that the longing won’t be satisfied, that it is a continual reaching-after the unreachable. Burt has the most melodic chorus of the songs and perhaps because of that, it’s proving to be the EP’s most popular track, according to Spotify.
The first few notes of Þegar ég sef (While I sleep) are reminiscent of a classic lullaby that twists into macabre foghorn-like synth track with a hypnotic rhythm. The harsh synth is in stark contrast to Mighty’s soft vocals, which conveys feelings of ambivalence, perhaps confusion.
Gleyma (Forget) closes the album. It’s slight pop beat and a chorus of smooth grooves are wound in Mighty Bear’s ethereal voice.
Einn was released a few weeks ago on Spotify, Youtube, and all other major streaming sites. The first vinyl pressing of the record sold out in a single day, but another batch is already on the way. Follow Mighty Bear on social media for updates on the album.