Leave it to the Danes to bring weirdness into electronic and pop music. Last month, we freaked out about how Danish trio CHINAH’s “Strange Is Better” subverted much of what we love about these genres to tremendously exciting and hooky effect; this month, Danish duo mono mono seems to be filling that role for us. Earlier this year, mono mono released its debut EP natural, and now its opening track “you” has a music video created by 73 Collective.
The video for “you” combines close-ups of skin in motion—body parts flexing, bending, and so forth—with shots in which mono mono vocalist Karoline Elsig (and occasionally her bandmate Jakob Franck) appear trapped behind a TV screen from the 1980s. There’s an implied physical distance between the viewer and Elsig and Franck, and this space imparts a loneliness, a heartbreak that the skin shots match. Nearly all the skin visuals are shot uncomfortably closely, sending a reminder that our bodies’ largest organ is at once beautiful, intricately woven, imperfect, and just deeply, deeply strange.
73 Collective’s images match the chorus of “you” sagely: “You and me/we were lovers forever/take me or leave me.” Elsig’s contrast of eternity (“forever”) with the past (“were”) is clever and striking, as are the many ways in which she and Franck toy with established electronic and pop formulas just enough to thoroughly rejuvenate ordinary sounds. With trap-inflected digital kicks, computer-made saxophones and hard-knocking snares, pitch-shifted low-register vocals to match Elsig’s singing, and repeated but well-spaced flushes of synth, mono mono’s music sounds as off-kilter as it does deeply familiar and inviting.
Elsig’s voice is a technical marvel and would be even without the deeply compelling music that surrounds it on “you.” Her vocal range spans many octaves, but it tends to most frequently linger in higher registers. She sings with both force and ease, resulting in a style that’s both traditionally powerful and malleable enough to aptly handle the production effects and glitches that she and Franck apply to it. The duo melt and reform electronic music in ways that line them right up with the ongoing lineage of Danes who know the exact right amount to screw shit up.