Featured Track Review: I See Rivers: Grow and Go

‘With a combination of stunning vocals, musical intimacy and unbounded joy, it makes the most perfect lead single.’

Intro to I See Rivers
Hailing individually from Norway, but meeting through studying at LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), the music of I See Rivers proves that they don’t just have heritage in common. Formed of Eline (Keys, vocals, percussion), Gøril (guitar, vocals, drum pad) and Lill (drums, vocals) each of their tracks to this point have wonderfully showcased a sound that’s refreshing, connective, relatable and literally harmonious in every way. However, in releasing their debut album ‘Deep and Rolling Green’ (2nd Oct 2020), these qualities are truly highlighted. Containing 18 tracks, there is a phenomenal amount of musicality on display and whether it’s the opening, otherworldly magic of ‘Apollo’, the rhythmical pounding of ‘Helios’, the evocative nature of ‘ITILMTBWIA’ or the spine-tingling drama of the album’s closing moments, you really have to applaud every nuance. To experience it all in one hit though, press play on the lead single.

Featured Track Review
Appropriately growing within seconds of beginning, glitchy samples, laughter and descending sweeps stimulate our listening instantly. Emerging as it does, it captivates us wonderfully and joined by dominant percussive rhythms it develops more than a hint of energy. Verging on high-octane thanks to the combination of ticking 16th’s, time keeping snare and syncopated guitar lines, the initially simple moments become a fusion of superb musicality. A fusion that truly captures the trio’s heritage and sets up the whole sensation of the track.

Contrasting beautifully with the initial musicality, arriving at the first verse the sense of energy becomes paired back allowing us to experience the most beautiful of Norwegian-tinged vocals. Encompassing what I always feel is a special tonal quality, here even though it is experienced in a more mainstream way, the magic artists from these areas conjure up is very much retained. Unable to ignore, the softness and real sense of lyrics going right-into-your-ear is clear as day while the pace of delivery, makes the connection feel very different to how we may have experienced it before.

Sitting above a backing of sustained harmonies, the accompaniment is what you could term as sparse, but the subtlety really is wonderful. Listen hard and you’ll realise just how much is going on, like the distant resurgences of percussion and mixed instrumental chord changes. Listen gently and you’ll be continually in awe of softness that is being experienced by what initially appears to be a solo vocal line. Adding the most delicate of warming harmonies, the lyricism feels beautifully intriguing. Equally, in exploring this further the title centred lyrics of ‘Everything will grow and go’ are given appropriately gentle emphasis while the inferred energy foreshadows the transformation about to occur. Pretty special right!

Hitting the chorus at pace, any sense of restraint inferred within the verse is cast aside resulting in an atmosphere that is full of life. Centred around the most infectious of vocal phrases – but one that contains not one true lyric – the sound is one that can only be summed up in two words: unbounded joy! Bouncing along in a marvellously carefree way, the immediately whistle-able, hum-able and sing-able harmonised motif instantly gets into your brain. And once it is there, it’s there all the time. Like all the best choruses, that key musical ingredient of it being effortlessly memorable couldn’t be any more evident and set to the opening energy, you really can’t resist it.

Returning to a less dominating sound, a sea of contrasts enable us to fully enjoy the softness that beautifully balances with that energy. Replacing the textural element of the first, here, in the second verse the track takes on an acoustic form. Providing appropriate intimacy, the combination of vocals and sparse piano works in an incredibly connective way. A world away from the sense of letting go just experienced, phrases such as ‘I can’t explain the state that I found us in’ transport us to something much more touching and reflective. Sure the success of the initial verse was clear – and the success of the chorus is only heightened when it returns – but with us fully focused on the vocals, you truly appreciate the stunning quality of them.

Moving to the latter parts of the track, following the chorus re-run, the theme of more exposed vocals gets strengthened through a succession of intriguing and rhythmically set phrases. Vocally building on the storytelling of how the relationship may have become ‘stagnant’, phrases such as ‘We can blame it on the oceans that divide us’ are delivered in a delicate high pitch manner. Meanwhile, spread synths combine with rhythmic hand claps to somehow bring an extra level of intimacy. Maybe it’s the fact that, like the formation of the words you can hear every element. Or maybe it’s just the way the two juxtapose with each other so wonderfully. Either way it feels – or should that be sounds – incredibly special. 

Taking us toward the closure of the track, with the many changes to this point keeping us on our toes, we are about to experience yet further musicality. Turning to develop a more dramatic edge a series of false climaxes make their way into our ears. Generated initially by synchronised sustained chords and alternating vocal settings, you really feel like it’s heading somewhere. Then, completely tricking us, it drops back to set up an intensifying sequence of tonally changing harmonies and emotionally increasing vocals. Clever songwriting it most definitely is. And then, having teased us, an exclamation of the title sends us into a final burst of full-throttle, carefree energy that really gets us going. Go on, press play on ‘Grow and Go’ now! 

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Listen to I See Rivers on: Spotify

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