Welcome to The List, The Edge‘s annual look at the best new musical talent for the year ahead. Check back daily over the next fortnight as we announce this year’s lineup in full, and revisit our picks from years past.
If what you want from pop music is apathetic tones with lyrics about weird sexual fetishes and unwanted adultery mixed around an upbeat synth backing, Sälen – formed of singer Ellie Kamio, keyboardist and guitarist Simon Milner, and bassist Paul Taylor Wade – is just the band for you. Named after a Swedish town said to be northern Europe’s largest alpine destination, Sälen first triggered our radar with debut release ‘IILWMBF,’ a yearning number released by Kitsuné on Christmas Day in 2015.
From the release of second single ‘Diseasey‘ in May, they have provided a welcome break from the norm in a world of stereotypical and mass-produced songs. In a Guardian interview earlier this year, Kamio said, “Simon and Paul are very good at encouraging me to be confident in what I have to say,” and with such enticing lyrics (“Pour your metal in my mouth / Lick my lips and taste yourself”) who’s to stop her? Every one of their songs maintains these familiar nonchalant tones that bare stark similarities to the works of synonymous ’80s rockers The Smiths whilst also emerging from their contemporary pop peers thanks to the lyrical bite (“I’ve heard all about your new bint / I don’t care, I don’t care, I’ll finish her, I swear”).
Standout single ‘Copper Kiss,’ their most recent release, shows off the niche that Sälen fits so comfortably into: dark and bizarre words spun by Kamio into Taylor Wade and Milner’s upbeat and bouncy world of high-pitched keys. Their emerging talent is not just represented by this one single – all four releases to date (‘IILWMBF,’ ‘Diseasey,’ ‘The Drwg,’ and ‘Copper Kiss’) share this captivating vibe that makes Sälen’s music not only an intriguing and often joyful listen. Their image seamlessly transitions from songs to their music videos with the apathetic tones throughout the bands work extending into Kamio’s acting in the videos – never before has someone staring directly into the camera with vomit rolling down their chin been so magical and compelling to watch. Recently added to Island’s roster, 2017 will surely bear great things for their lovable synthpop stylings.