Imported all the way from Norway, Team Me’s third album Something in the Making is a homecoming of sorts. After winning the 2011 Norwegian Grammy for their debut studio album To the Treetops!, and producing an equally successful second studio album Blind as Night in early 2015 – their breakup was nothing if not a surprise.
Their first outing presented Team Me as a young band, able to learn from music forefathers while creating a sound that was wholly their own. They were able to deliver their own brand of indie-pop with a large, dramatic soundscape and intimate sensitivity.
Team Me disbanded at the peak of their powers, with two cult favourite albums in their roster, and an army of fans spanning the world. Putting their split down to the various trials and tribulations of the music industry: being crushed under the wheels, the pressure of touring, and the overwhelming speed of success leaving them very little time to really savour it. Yet they have finally found their way back home.
On October 29, 2021, the band released the first single of the album ‘Song for a Drummer’. Followed quickly by December’s ‘Just Another Sleepless Night in the Dark’ – coinciding with the 10 year anniversary of the band’s debut. They planted the seed of excitement with these experimental, genre-fluid singles and a handful of live shows. Yet Team Me’s silence between now and then has proved to be the fuel to ignite their comeback album.
“It was a feeling of falling in love all over again to bring the band back together,” says frontman Marius Drogsås Hagen.
There’s a sense of excitement that trickles through the entire album – all the way from the opening track ‘Riding My Bicycle (From Ragnvalsbekken To Sorkedalen)’ – till the final notes of ‘Daggers’.
“When we first announced our reunion, the love and appreciation was just overwhelming to be honest. I was very surprised,” says Hagen. “Still, it was a good move to not rush into anything. It left everyone with hope and motivation for the future.”
Something in the Making showcases Hagen’s finely tuned ear for pop, succeeding in its most important characteristics: accessibility and fun. This does not mean his music is simplistic though – on the contrary, it’s inventive, layered and heavenly imaginative. The record’s big and dramatic, intimate and tender. It invites you in, presenting you with new discoveries on every listen. It creates the perfect equilibrium between complexity and immediacy, individualism and accessibility.
You can hear it straight away from ‘Song for a Drummer’. A delightful little psych-pop concoction. It places itself inside its musical lineage, all the way from The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’, to The Flaming Lips and MGMT. It plays on familiarity, drawing audiences in before shocking them with Team Me’s vibrant personality.
The song is about a friend who never moved out of their small town, who never had their perspectives challenged, and the writer telling them how great it is to leave the countryside – before seeing that he himself may not be doing that well, or “realising that you’re not qualified to give good advice when you’re living too fast yourself,” in Hagen’s words.
Team Me succeeds every step of the way. Hagen is the best songwriter he’s ever been. He admits he fell in love with playing the guitar in a way that he hadn’t felt in years – penning over 100 songs before introducing more and more experimental instrumentation. He presents kaleidoscopic sound sequences which encapsulate the gravity and poignancy of his songs. His musicality is raw and personal – a lightness found from the dark.
Such introspection is found on the beautifully celestial track of ‘Green Crystal Rain on a Star’. Hagen’s reflection of “just because you feel like a stranger on a street, it doesn’t mean that you’re a stranger to me” is a beautiful way of reaching out to audiences.
“I’m positive to be back. I’m not anxious,” the frontman – who was the soul member of Team Me for an interim period – concludes. “I understand how privileged I am to get to do this. Maybe I’m afraid to expect too much, but this is the 2.0 version of Team Me and a new start for me.”
And I assure you, there is no need to be nervous, you’ll welcome him with open arms.
photo credit: Jonathan Vivaas Kise