OK Ikumi: Spirits
Blue Bell

Karl Jørgensen's OK Ikumi style could be described as James Figurine-meets-Solvent and, if that combination sounds appealing, rest assured you won't be disappointed by the thirteen ultra-melodic songs on his debut full-length, Spirits, either. Jørgensen's vocals, which resemble Jimmy Tamborello's (aka Dntel and James Figurine), are placed low in the mix which makes them recall Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake even more. Jørgensen occasionally brings his sister Kari (The Boy Who Could Fly) along for the vocal ride, and the bright sparkle of her sweet voice forms a perfect complement to his restrained delivery (the two could even pass for Suzanne Vega and James Figurine when they team up for the irresistibly poppy duet “No Matter”). OK Ikumi's keyboard-heavy songs teem with captivating hooks, heartfelt lyrics, and, not unusual for the genre, an occasional vocoder. Jørgensen, like Solvent, doesn't smother the songs with overly-baroque arrangements but keeps things stripped-down and wholly synthetic (“Star Radio” even sounds like a Solvent title).

Though an occasional instrumental (e.g., “Reform”) breaks up the vocal-based flow, one guesses that Jørgensen's heart lies a little bit more in the latter than the former. “Relocation” starts out as a wonderland of arcade synths and handclaps before turning into a wistful ode to escape; likewise, an undercurrent of melancholy comes to the fore in “True Ghosts,” especially when Jørgensen's whisper gives way to a pretty piano melody. Packed with high-grade tunes like “Heart Not Stopping” and “The Common Good,” Spirits is fresh and pure synth-pop bliss straight from Jørgensen's Provo, Utah bedroom.

December 2007