Sweden’s Brothers Among Wera recorded their full debut album in a tiny fishing village by the Baltic Sea, and this intimacy is present in every second of Fictional Takes. BAW’s sound is hard to summarize—their fantastical brand of neo-folk swings from explosive walls of sound to delicate acoustic ballads in a matter of seconds, like some Nordic folk-pop opera sprung from the crisp forest air. There’s something almost anachronistic about their earnest energy and choruses of trumpets; it’s hard to shake the feeling that BAW’s music is of another time, even another world.
In this way, Fictional Takes is escapism at its finest. The album kicks off with the gleeful triumph of “Put A Spell On My Name,” all harmonies and anticipatory strums. Wera Westholm’s dynamic vocals narrate the album as if it were some abstract and epic story, Westholm herself its heroine. She’s backed through “Mammoth” by a Greek chorus of trumpets, settling into a nest of gentle harmonies for “All That We Don’t Have.” The album continues this trend throughout, oscillating between the lively and the tender until its fiery conclusion. Had the lyrics told any sort of continuing narrative, the entire album could have passed for a grand musical folktale.
Despite this singularity, Fictional Takes is somehow also incredibly relatable. Musically, the album may evoke woodland fables and Nordic fairytales, but lyrically it hits close to home in an exceedingly modern, relevant way. Lines like “I don’t see my friends no more / And if I do it’s with alcohol” are exactly the sort of youthful confessions that make BAW so endearing, and their eruptive wall-of-folk sound makes them the ideal liaison between the Mumford & Sons crowd and the neo-folk purists.
Bold and distinctive without ever being alienating, Fictional Takes is a gleeful reverie that unabashedly embraces its Nordic roots. Brothers Among Wera effortlessly defies genre, creating a sound that is entirely unique but strikingly comforting—a burst of storybook brilliance that feels both worlds away and so close you can taste it.