Meet Korallreven, The Swedish Pop Duo With Airy Melodies And An Ear For New York City


“Korallreven” is the Swedish word for “coral reef,” and that imageappropriately sums up the Swedish dream-pop duo’s beautiful, yet threatening sound, which is both beautiful and threatening. Korallreven’s music is filled with these kinds of dualities: cold and sunny; vast and intimate; light and heavy. Immersing oneself in the band’s debut, An Album By Korallreven, (Hybris / Acéphale) is a soothing and cerebral experience, but bandmember Marcus Joons says the group’s live show airs more on the side of rhythmic and energetic.

“Our sound is a bit different live from our records,” says Joons. “It’s more focused on beats, trying to take you to a trance-like feeling.” Korallreven’s first NYC show—happening on Sunday at Bowery Ballroom—will be a return to what Joons calls his second home; he lived in New York while completing An Album By Korallreven. “I was walking around the city, listening, listening, listening during the fall of 2010,” he said. “I like the spontaneity of New York. Things are just happening.”

The second single from the album, “As Young As Yesterday,” is a cool and refreshing wash of bright, airy melodies, coupled with with dancefloor rhythms. The song title and repeated vocal line celebrate a childlike sense of wonderment that calls to mind the work of Panda Bear, who contributed a track to the song’s remix EP. The New York singer and vocal manipulator Julianna Barwick also contributes to An Album, adding a lush choral introduction to the song “Sa Sa Samoa.”

Joons doesn’t specifically identify with any Swedish groups, but Korallreven combine atmospherics with bass-driven pop in a way similar to fellow Swedes jj and The Knife. Like both of these acts, Korallreven maintain a fairly mysterious online presence while maintaining frequent and varied schedule of releases—an Album only came out in November, but it’s already been followed up by two remix EPs and the mixtape called ONANDONANDON, streaming below.

Korallreven play Bowery Ballroom with Lemonade and Young Magic on Sunday.