Westkust – ‘Last Forever’ Review

Posted: by Riley

Westkust is a Swedish band which includes members of equally interesting RFC label-mates Makthaverskan. Formerly a hub for bratty pop-punk and emo bands, Westkust is an integral part of Run For Cover’s progression towards a wider range of sound manifested in indie-friendly signees. Like Elvis Depressedly and Makthaverskan, it’s fairly difficult – and seems unfair – to pin the band to one genre. Post-punk, shoegaze, surf-rock, twee; these terms function as descriptors for certain aspects of their sound, but never fully capture the scope of Westkust or their excellent debut LP, Last Forever.

Their Pitchfork-approved lead single and album opener ‘Swirl’ is a captivating early 90s-flavored track that borrows post-punk rhythm for a definitively exultant pop gem. This serves as a fitting introduction to the band’s roomy sound, which is characterized by oft-distorted soaring guitars, a hyperactive rhythm section, and strong hooks tag-teamed by Gustav Andersson and Julia Bjernelind.  Our second taste of the band came in the form of LP standout ‘Dishwasher.’ The track is an equally alluring piece of pop-rock pierced by a strident riff and containing one of 2015’s most memorable lyrical nuggets – Bjernelind’s charmingly whimsical, “Take my hand and never leave, though I am terrible.” This playful sincerity permeates the LP, lending a tangible narrative tone to sonically dense songs that could stand on their own with merely serviceable lyrics.

Last Forever arrived in early July and thank god – it’s a summer record through and through. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is ‘Summer 3D,’ an aptly titled cinematic surf rocker anthem complete with waves of warped guitar and burning harmonies not dissimilar from early Bombay Bicycle Club.

Despite the sunny textures employed throughout the LP, Westkust makes sure to let their gloomier themes read as just that. The band effectively sucks the joy from their spacious songs to create moments of loneliness and melancholy, sometimes reintroducing their euphoric arrangements only seconds later. In these brief glimpses of gloom, Bjernelind is reduced to whisper-vocals while Andersson transitions from his controlled Gallagher-brother snarl to a Roland Orzabal-esque wail. Aside from ‘Easy,’ which may as well be an outtake from Going Blank Again, Westkust seem to have fashioned a unique sound that is both sonically and tonally dynamic. This impressive debut finds a young, talented band making post-punk music that frolics more than it stomps, and allows its big songs to sound cheerful. In just the first 10 minutes of Last Forever, Bjernelind invites listeners to “take her hand” a few separate times; although where you’ll go is unsure at that point, accept that invitation. Last Forever is a worthwhile journey.

Score – 8.2/10

Essential Tracks: ‘Swirl,’ ‘0700,’ and ‘Dishwasher’
FFO: Ride, Makthaverskan, No Joy