When he started releasing music under his own name, Henrik Appel didn’t really have expectations for it to be anything other than a side-project. As a member of Martin Savage Gang and the front-man of Lion’s Den, he was already an established cog in the wheel of the Stockholm underground. His 2018 debut, Burning Bodies, was five years in the making, and despite its distinctly lo-fi qualities, it was well worth the effort that timescale implies. A record of raw heartbreak and surprisingly tight musical constraints, no more than three instruments per song for one, Burning Bodies became something of a cult success story, winning over whoever cast their ears its way. Initially planning to return to work with Lion’s Den, that idea didn’t last long and the band came to an amicable conclusion. With songs still burning a hole in his pocket, Henrik arranged, “a return to the solo coalface”, and the result is his new album, Humanity. The record will arrive at the start of next year via PNKSLM Recordings, and today we’re premiering the first single from it, I Want To Lie.
While feeling like a natural progression from Burning Bodies, I Want To Lie does showcase a certain loosening of Henrik’s previously strict musical rules, the more expansive backing taking him back towards his garage roots. At the forefront of the track is a bright-jangle of guitar and the prominent bass-line, the raw, and gently retro sound recalling the likes of Holiday Ghosts or The Wave Pictures. Just as the song seems to be settling into a certain mood, it takes an abrupt turn, as rich flourishes of woodwind, add a wistful, reflective warmth.
Throughout the track, there’s both a simplicity and a relatability to Henrik’s words. While he has suggested the album is a shift from the personal to the, “collective struggle”, here he seems less keen on struggling and more on getting out all together, “I want to get away, jump on that boat, sail away from this shit society”. Despite his initially freeing desire to leave it all behind, there’s a hint that maybe solitude isn’t his chosen destination after all, “I know you feel the same, I know you feel the same, ’cause you told me the other day”. Perhaps instead of a desire for escapism, this is instead a plea for the world to move with the times, to leave its failures behind and embrace a kinder way of existing as a collective whole. If this track serves as a statement of intent, Henrik Appel’s take on Humanity might just be the blueprint for a wonderfully bright future.