International is the moment Lust for Youth steps out of the shadows. What was once the solo work of Hannes Norrvide — a project that melded a love of ’80s synthpop to dark, murky production — has blossomed into something much brighter with this album.
Thanks to the additions of Loke Rahbek and Malthe Fisher to the band, International not only sounds more fleshed out than any of Lust for Youth’s previous work, but it also sounds like a band exploring much more than just the niche corner it previously created for itself.
Album opener “Epoetin Alfa” is a perfect illustration of Lust for Youth’s new shift in sound. Everything shines on here, from the clackity synth riff that floats in and out of the song, to the trumpet that occasionally sounds in the distance. The track’s beat and core swell to life thanks to a matching guitar line that follows it throughout. Norrvide and guest vocalist Elias Bender Ronnenfelt’s vocals are front and center, complementing one another and conveying just the right amount of distant emotion. In sharp contrast to Lust for Youth’s previous sound, not a single aspect of the song is buried or muffled.
This brighter sound can be seen to even greater effect on songs like “Illume” and “Running.” Both are unabashedly sunny pop songs — the types of songs that could come blasting out of a car on a summer day — a description that, a year ago, would have seemed inconceivable to apply to a Lust for Youth song.
Not that Lust for Youth has completely discarded its dark past. “After the Touch” has a dreary, slow dance quality to it, while “Lungomare” is an exercise in atmosphere with its airy quality and vocals completely in Italian. But these tracks serve both as interludes as well as odes to the band’s past. International’s centerpiece, “Armida,” is a combination of the band’s new and old sound. Containing some of the darkest synth work and beats on the album, the song emerges as a pure club song — pounding and pulsing with energy, akin to a gothic dance song.
With International, Lust for Youth has managed to expand to a massive degree creatively and, in doing so, has made one of the best albums of the year.