Sweden and Hawaii may be disparate environments, but that doesn’t stop Victoria Bergsman, aka Taken By Trees, from bringing them together. The former Concretes singer heads to paradise on Other Worlds, the follow-up to 2009’s acclaimed East Of Eden.
Opening track “Horizon” makes an unassuming entrance, Bergsman’s vocals hushed. It’s a small wave creeping onto the shore, announcing the arrival of a vibrant, evocative record. “Dreams” is a winsome, wistful highlight, setting the tone of Other Worlds. “In Other Words” captures the sweet romanticism of classic Hawaiiana without the kitschiness. When she asks, “Would you like to go steady?” on “I Want You,” her delivery reminds listeners of why she was featured on Peter Bjorn And John’s “Young Folks.”
“Not Like Any Other” isn’t quite sinister, but it’s darker and more haunting than the more tranquil fare that makes up the rest of the album. The rattling rhythm and Bergsman’s distorted vocals make the track a refreshing diversion. It’s followed by “Pacific Blue,” perhaps the most overtly tropical track, layered with steel drums.
Bergsman mined from Pakistani music on East Of Eden, but perhaps its most memorable track was the simple, folked-up cover of Animal Collective’s “My Girls.” There’s nothing so stripped down here, where she’s clearly in pursuit of richer, fuller instrumentation. “Indigo Dub” is a richly layered interlude that sounds as big as any of the more completely realized songs.
Other Worlds doesn’t get overtly weird, but it’s surely expansive-sounding. Produced by Henning Fürst (the Tough Alliance), the album gets its transportive feel from environmental noises recorded by Bergsman on a trip to Hawaii. Rolling waves, wind and birdsong serve as subtle but insistent reminders.
There’s an interplay between the hugeness of the recordings and the ostensible smallness of her voice, bringing intimacy to a large space. Bergsman’s just looking at the ocean, watching the sun set.