Themed albums can be nice, can’t they? Unless of course it’s about euthanasia or abortion or something. Not really great for pop. What is usually great, however, is travel. Something that Ester Ideskog has been doing as Vanbot across the plains of – yep – Siberia.
While we’d like to say it informs the glacial beats of her new album, truth is they were already like that on her previous one. What it does do is give her scope to play with chants on Not That Kind (Moscow) and add the flavour of her backpacking to that style, while turning it into something more about wistful landscapes than big pop hooks. Not necessarily a good thing.
And while indulgence is a given, it also means a lot of aimless navel-gazing. Stay With Me (Perm) feels like an Instagram-filtered version of a visit, exciting perhaps for the creator but not so much for those on the outside looking in. Vanbot herself gets lost in the cold synths of On The Fly (Omsk), her once-ferocious personality suddenly just incidental apparatus in this aural travel documentary.
In fairness, if Vanbot set to paint a portrait of a stereotypical and bleak Siberia, she’s managed that just fine. Apart from Close Enough (Ulan Bator) there’s very little repeat value, but that song coming towards the end could be a good thing – it may mean Vanbot is over the travel bug and ready to make pop that doesn’t leave us feeling so cold.