Mojib: Whimsical Lifestyle

Whimsical Lifestyle, the eclectic debut album by Gothenburg, Sweden-based Mojib (Staffan Ulmert), merges the melodic sparkle of a prototypical Morr Music release with down-tempo, sample-based hip-hop. The eleven-song set ranges far beyond that singular style, though, which makes for a more interesting listening experience if one that's also less cohesive than one might like. Sometimes, Whimsical Lifestyle feels more like a label compilation presenting the work of disparate artists rather than a single creator: for example, “Lifesaver” serves up a campfire guitar-based folk romp; “Home is where the Heart is” features protest chants and exhortations and aggressive drum patterns; and the haunting “The Garden Part Three” first pairs a female torch singer (“He came from the sunset / He came from the sea”) with piano, and then a male voiceover with deep strings. Isolated moments of “Answering Machine at Night” could be mistaken for a slightly funky Prefuse 73, while strings and piano melodies vaguely recall The Rolling Stones' “She's a Rainbow” during “Break of Dawn.”

Despite such contrasts, Whimsical Lifestyle emphasizes bright, breezy, and melodic instrumental hip-hop in “Jonsered,” the fleeting “Intro” (where male and female voices play ping-pong with breathy phrases), and in the title track which includes harp, vibes, and sitar accents and a sing-song vocal melody (“Give a little time for the child within you / Don't be afraid to be young and free / Undo the locks and throw away the keys/ And take off your shoes and socks and run you”). Near album's end, the stirring epic, “Underneath,” gravitates towards Sigur Ros territory with a romantic mix of piano, yearning strings, and whispered vocals, followed by the equally lovely postlude “Untitled”; taken together, the two constitute the album's eleven-minute peak. Yes, Mojib's Whimsical Lifestyle is a bit too chameleonic—not the first time a debut could be accused of such a thing—but it's also more than credible in terms of quality.

February 2008