17th December 2016. Yes, it’s been a year since Sweden’s greatest Rock band Kent called it quits after around 26 years in the business. And no, some of us are still not over it. And Instagram told us that we’re not the only ones.
Insert a sad smiley here.
So we went, reviewed every Kent-album (excluding the B-Side collection and EP’s) ever, all the way from the band’s eponymous debut album to the mildly depressive vibes of “Då som nu för alltid” while trying to figure out what made Kent different and along the way, we also went and created our own version of the cover picture that can be found on the band’s Best Of record.
You can see it either as a remembrance, a crash-course for those who are not familiar with this band for whatever reason, or twelve absolutely irrelevant, short album reviews. It’s up to you.
So before changing their name to Kent, this band has performed under the names Jones & Giftet and Havsänglar… And like every young band, they fucking sucked in the first years. Go and take a listen to songs called “Långt och länge” or “Hon är“. Cringeworthy, isn’t it?
Anyway, it’s 1995, Kent just released their debut album and while it’s nothing more than an average debut album, songs like “Blåjeans“, “Ingenting någonsin” or “När det blåser på månen” definitely helped to define the angst-ridden early phase of the band that would become the most successful Rock act of Sweden.
“Kent” is a debut album with no real highlight. All songs found on this record form a unity that works perfectly when you don’t really want to focus much on what you’re listening to. At the same time, it still manages to deliver some statement-songs like “Jag vill inte vara rädd” as well as some really memorable moments – Talking about “Stenbrott” here.
It’s almost like some background noise you put on to help you focus on some activity, you know… And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Should you check it out if you’re new to Kent? Maybe. 2/4 of us would.
One year later, Kent dropped their sophomore record called “Verkligen” and if you pull parallels between the debut album and this one, you’ll figure out that “Verkligen” plays around with a darker and deeper vibe than the debut album while still being on the same wavelength, trying to be a bit more sophisticated.
A perfect example of how Kent‘s “Verkligen“-era sounds (and looks) like would be “Gravitation” and this is also the first time you could hear some real hit-songs – Something that was missing on the debut record. Just take a listen to “Kräm” or “Halka“. Don’t they just get stuck in your head?
At the time Kent released “Verkligen“, you could think that they kinda found their style and stuff. Well, and then the third album came and stirred everything up. And the last track “Vi kan väl vänta tills imorgon” just sounds like Radiohead. On drugs.
Should you check it out if you’re new to Kent? Stick with the singles first. They’re bomb.
We’re not doing this in German, but let’s say the following nevertheless: “Isola” is something we would call a “Meisterstück in pissgelb”. It is what it is. A “meisterstück“. The “pissgelb” refers to the album cover, obviously.
Compare the first two albums to “Isola“. You might probably ask yourself if it’s still the same band. Well, yes it is. This album showed Kent in a brand new light. There ain’t no significant change in the genre just now, but the songwriting got tighter, the focus lied in the melodies and emotions while showcasing the instrumental qualities of the band at the same time – “747” represents “Isola” perfectly and we could give you 747 reasons why you should check out this record.
From ridiculously catchy choruses of “Om du var här” or “Saker man ser” to the hypnotizing guitar-walls in “Innan allting tar slut” or the hard-to-describe-almost-end-of-the-world-ish vibe of “OWC“… Kent managed to release a game-changer with their third album.
Hauntingly beautiful, but inaccessible at the same time. You gotta find a way to it first… But thinking about it… How psychedelic is “Isola“, actually?
Also, there’s an English version of this record. It’s not as good as the Swedish one. Trust me.
Should you check it out if you’re new to Kent? To be honest, “Om du var här” will probably be your first contact with “Isola“. Go for it, if you dare.
Hagnesta Hill (1999) and its English counterpart from 2000:
Also known as that one album with the creepy girl on it, “Hagnesta Hill” is the first time Kent dare to step out from their comfort-zone to experiment a little. The band sounds so much more confident and tracks like “Revolt III” or “En himmelsk drog” just radiate that. “Hagnesta Hill” also spilled one of the most iconic Kent-songs ever. Yes, it’s “Musik Non-Stop” and its irresistible bass-line. We still wonder whether the title is a little homage to Kraftwerk and their “Musique Non Stop” or not.
“Hagnesta Hill” is explosive, bold, but still delicate in a way and by far more accessible than “Isola” even though the album just seems to drag on after the eight track.
Now, it would be wrong saying that the English version of this record is superior, but let’s face it… “The King Is Dead” and “Heavenly Junkies” just work wonders in their international renditions, whereas the English version of “Musik Non-Stop” sucks big times, feeling too artificial in comparison to the Swedish counterpart. Just look at the music videos and tell us which version speaks more to you. Here‘s the Swedish one, the other one can be found here.
Btw, the last song off “Hagnesta Hill” – “Visslaren” – spreads over 7:47 minutes… Coincidence? Don’t think so.
Should you check it out? Yes, go for it. You’ll get a bit tired of it eventually, but “Beskyddaren” comes around in a very needy manner soon and that will fill up your attention level for at least two more songs.
Vapen & Ammunition (2002):
What do you feel when driving through an ice-cold night at almost 200 km/h down the federal motorways of Germany? Whatever you feel, it can be probably used as a keyword for the description of Kent‘s fifth album “Vapen & Ammunition“.
Dramatic and mysterious all the way from the opener “Sundance Kid” to “Sverige“, an album like this can only deserve to have an “iconic“-sticker over it.
“Vapen & Ammunition” will suck you in into its darker vibe and it won’t let you go for a long time, tracks like “Dom andra” or “Socker” are only a captivating bonus you get on the way.
And while this album creates a rather grim and hard-to-describe mood, all songs are strong enough to stand alone, making “Vapen & Ammunition” a true gem.
You just want to get away and find your purpose in life while having this record playing.
Btw, did you ever hear the English version of “Duett” called “Love Undone“? We do think Kent would’ve made it abroad with an English version of this record this time… That never happened and some things are meant to stay the way they are, right?
Kent has grown up. And something tells us that they’ll never be like the others.
Should you check it out? Yes. Definitely. Without a doubt.
Du & jag döden (2005):
If you thought that the previous album is dark enough, Kent comes around to prove you wrong while facing their own mortality.
“Du & jag döden” already makes a statement with the bass riff that punches your eardrums when “400 slag” starts playing. The impact delivered by this track is huge. And whatever comes next just adds to it. “Du & jag döden” is an album that has the strength to make you think about the music and the message. And it’s an album that’s even attractive to the die-hard Metal fans in our crew.
There’s something about this album that makes it very appealing. No matter if it’s the band’s heavier use of raw guitar-walls or the semi-depressive mindset that gets thrown at you by tracks like “Järnspöken” or “Klåparen“… This record didn’t exactly drop these legendary Kent-tracks (Besides “Mannen i den vita hatten (16 år senare)” but more on that one later) that would spontaneously creep up in your mind years later, but the general music approach made this record stand out. Now let’s talk about how creepy the video for “Max 500” is. There you go.
Anyway, the glorious last track of this record will give you the chills one last time and also, that’s the point where Kent gives you the last words to live by.
“Vi ska alla en gång dö”
You’re right, Joakim Berg. You’re fucking right.
Should you check it out if you’re new to Kent? Safest bet of them all. And if Metal is your genre of choice, then “Du & jag döden” will be your Kent-album of choice. It’s their most “Metal” album. Whatever that means.
Tillbaka till samtiden (2007):
You’ll either hate it or love it. There’s no in-between for “Tillbaka till samtiden“. In the meantime, Kent has become a four-piece and the drastic genre change was everything but expected. Their 2006 release called “The Hjärta & Smarta EP” didn’t hint at something like this happening, did it?
Usually, bands hit a point after six albums where everybody just kinda goes off, starting side-projects to experiment on something new – The famous band would lose fans if they’d suddenly release something stylistically different, right?
Well, Kent did the opposite and they didn’t give a fuck if people like them going full-on Synthpop or not. The point goes out to you, gentlemen!
So… We mentioned that you can either love or hate this record… Or you just listen to it until the point you start to love it. The fact is that “Tillbaka till samtiden” is one of the catchiest Kent-records ever and the first five tracks are pure magic. That’s a fact you just can’t erase. If “Columbus” doesn’t touch you with its bombastic arrangement, then I don’t know what will. And “Ingenting“, the first single taken from this album, screams Dance Rock like nothing else.
Kent exaggerated things a bit on “Tillbaka till samtiden” and that made this album so fun. It might be a hard pill to swallow for some cause it’s softish most of the times. But who the fuck cares, right?
Should you check it out if you’re new to Kent? No. Start with something else and return later. You’ll get to appreciate it more this way. Trust us.
Red is a powerful color. And red – more like “Röd” – is the name of the most daring album Kent has released. Yes, they’ve rediscovered themselves once more. Combining Industrial and Electronic elements with Alternative Rock, “Röd” will bring you into some kind of a negative space, while throwing some really memorable synth-melodies or guitar riffs at you – They will follow you. Trust me.
The vibes of Berlin rub off on you. And that has definitely happened on this record. It almost feels like “Du & jag döden“, but more badass and Progressive.
While “Hjärta” seems to be the decadent little brother of “Columbus“, “Vals för satan (din vän pessimisten)” is pretty much the first Kent-song to truly showcase the vocal qualities of Jocke Berg and… If you’re looking for the most underrated track ever, then “Ensamheten” got you covered. The transition between the “traditional” side of Kent and that Psytrance-ish drop is just something you need to hear. And the next thing you need to hear is the fact, that the singles from “Röd” are not the best tracks on the album.
Should you check it out if you’re still new to Kent? That’s a good question.
En plats i solen (2010):
From fucking dark and almost evil to almost fucking happy… Or… So you could say when you compare the album cover of “Röd” and the album we’re gonna tell you something about soon. The stock-photo adorning the cover of “En plats i solen” makes you question your own existence when you listen to this album.
Well, it’s basically a summer album with some highlights also known as “Ismael” or “Gamla Ullevi” and the epic synth-line that goes through it. And let’s not forget about the never-ending lalalala-chorus of “Skisser för sommaren” or “Ärlighet respekt kärlek“. That one’s pretty cool too.
We don’t know about you, but in the end, “En plats i solen” gives off a rushed impression (okay, it came out a couple of months after “Röd“, but you probably figured out on your own) which doesn’t really add to it – Well, we see it as some kind of a contract-album. Kent released the following three records on a different label. Just saying.
“En plats i solen” won’t be a classic album by this band. But that doesn’t matter.
Should you check it out? We feel it’s a bit underrated. We like underrated things. You can try it out, but there might be better options.
Jag är inte rädd för mörkret (2012):
“I am not afraid of the darkness” is the translated name of Kent‘s tenth studio album and something tells us that you’re only telling yourself that you’re not afraid – But hey, telling yourself something is better than not doing anything at all.
With this record, Kent pretty much perfected the way they went on the previous album, making it sound more sophisticated and thought-through, much less like an experiment – which the previous album pretty much was, am I right?
Besides the obvious hit-track singles like “Jag ser dig” or “Tänd på“, this album also features “Beredd på allt” and I have a fun memory involving that song. Let’s just say that I was driving to Munich when this one randomly came up on my car-playlist. The rest is history and my reaction was priceless. It was lovely. Yeah. Anyway, to everyone’s surprise Kent go full on Trip Hop with “Hänsyn“, making “Jag är inte rädd för mörkret” a truly special record that now flirts around with Pop elements while still staying true to what Kent stand for sound-like.
Should you check this record out? We can’t think of a reason why not.
Let’s forget about the political content behind some of the tracks and let’s focus on how high-fashioned this record sounds like. I kinda want to put my Alexander McQueen sunglasses on, listen to this record while at a crowded terminal of Prague Airport, waiting for my morning flight to Helsinki or wherever, forgetting about the fact that I’m actually scared of flying. And that comes from someone who already “made friends” with this record.
Kent released “Tigerdrottningen” in 2014, making it their most intimidating record ever. There’s something about it that makes it really hard to get into even though it includes some of the most wonderful songs by this band ever. “Var är vi nu?” (Do you know that alternative version of this one? Pure love) or “Skogarna“, for example.
It’s just like high-fashion. In the beginning you just can’t wrap your head around it but the more you get tempted, the more you start to like it. This comparison must be the worst one in the history of ever. “Tigerdrottningen” is extravagant, glamorous and expensive – Well, it feels expensive. You can have a vinyl copy for 24€ which is a normal retail price here.
It’s not an album you would like to hear often. It’s almost like you don’t want to ruin its exclusivity.
And “Den andra sidan” is just… Majestic.
Should you check it out? No. No matter how tempting it is, do not listen to “Tigerdrottningen” if you know nothing about Kent. It will put you off from their older material. Sorry.
Då som nu för alltid (2016):
Kent‘s last album feels bittersweet. But that was to expect.
You can read what one of us thought about it around the time it got released, but don’t do that.
Sometimes, you’d just like to deny the existence of “Då som nu för alltid” – Even though it’s equally as strong as “Tigerdrottningen“, maybe even better…
On “Då som nu för alltid” Kent combine pretty much every aspect that can be found throughout their previous material… From the more Synthpop-ish feel of “Den vänstra stranden“, the hard-hitting guitar riffs of “Gigi” all the way to “Förlåtelsen” which wields the ability of jerking tears from the toughest listeners out there… Kent‘s last album is a truly emotional ride the more you listen to it. And the more you listen to it, the more you get the feeling that this wasn’t it… Or was it?
“Då som nu för alltid” delivers some truly iconic tracks, making up a glorious goodbye.
Kent fused genres throughout the years and they always did their own thing. Regardless of what anyone else thought – At least they always gave off that vibe. And that’s just one thing that made this band the greatest Rock band of Sweden. One of the thousand details that made us love them.
Thank you for the music. We still miss you. Sometimes…
Should you check the last album out if you’re new to this band? It’s much safer than “Tigerdrottningen“, but this shouldn’t be your first Kent-album.
Written by YDP People
Photo by M. Nyman-Sramkova, special thanks to Laura