Fifth Floor - Heartbreak Talks
Our love of Fifth Floor started at the launch of their EP which was on a barge on the Thames where they revealed themselves as having a remarkable ear for a good melody. When you also factor in that Moa Bergström and Matilda Christiansson are from Sweden and therefore not writing in their native language their achievements are all the greater. Having seen them a couple of times over the summer, I've been struck by quite how far they've come since that first night on the Thames.
"Heartbreak Talks" sets the scene a guide for the contents within, and the striking cover of an overturned glass where the spilt drink only partially reflects back the image of the glass. The album comes in at a relatively short eight tracks over 29 minutes but the focus here is on quality if not quantity. This is a collection of songs where relationships in lyrics are generally in dark places quite often counteracted by tunes that may convey a different feeling. Quite often there is a startling opening couplet that immediately engages the listener if only to find out what happens next.
The opener "Heart In Your Arms" opens seemingly happy enough with a strumming guitar chord and a girl used to being on her own suddenly getting a call to come over. This is something of an unusual dynamic though as it is the singer who is in control and while she finds the man "interesting" there is no long term attraction "I'm not going to say I love you cos i never did!" It comes with a trademark upbeat sounding Fifth Floor chorus as the reality of the situation is spelt out.
There is also a lot of darkness in "My Backyard My Business" with the singer having to defend herself from an accusatory neighbour saying "She's a liar a cheater and a drunk". With a rocking chorus that fiercely defends her right to do as she likes, it still is a little creepy that there is someone constantly spying for more rumours to spread.
Things slow down a little for the title track, and lyrically we are immediately plunged into a situation where the singer does not mind if the person at the other end does not pick up their phone in an almost resigned way "I say i'm fine but it's getting hard to sell" The song starts as just a drum and guitar before opening up after the first chorus however it keeps a somewhat slow pace. The singer is just left "Lonely in the dark" adding to the overall bleakness of the track.
"Bought Me A Lie" opens with the a startling admission "I know I make questionable choices and i'm the last to admit when they go wrong". For reasons that are never quite fully explained this covers the fact that the person you first meet in a relationship might not really be the person they truly are.
"Diabolical" is another song that paints the singer in a questionable light "my DNA is up to nothing good". Big drums and guitars run through it and it sounds like Fifth Floor trying their take on a song that could be placed into the TV series “Nashville”.. Halfway through it even inexplicably speeds up to accommodate a guitar solo. In all ways it is gloriously over the top and even comes with a crowd ready chant before speeding up towards a sudden end.
A little bit of light relief comes along with one of the feel good singles of the summer "Sipping On A Coke". With both members of Fifth Floor growing up in small towns near to water this song covers the urge to return to a simpler way of life, to get away from the big city and it's stresses and strains. With a joyfully happy chorus and a crowd chant built in this is utterly delightful.
"These Days" sets us back to domestic unhappiness, though the jaunty tune is at odds with the tale of a couple splitting up in possibly a case of right person wrong time certainly as far as the singer goes as she is left wondering "if its haunting you like it is haunting me"
She has tried to move on "I cut my hair" reinforced by possibly an unintentional pun about "changing locks" but she can "Still feel you everywhere". It is hard to accept that she'll be a "chapter you'll never read again" and there is a poignancy between the bravado at the start of the song where she makes a point of not standing in the way of the person leaving whereas at the end if given the chance again she'd have wouldn't have stayed behind.
The final song "The Girl" is perhaps the most stark and the most brutal of them all, mainly just an acoustic guitar with some Kaity Rae cello playing!, it drops one bombshell in the first chorus "You're going to marry a girl in this room and it won't be me!" but there are more revelations to come later, as it is revealed "You're going to marry a girl in this room that you met through me".
There is real pathos in the lines"I know you don't mean to but I can see you slipping away".
With their first EP and album in the bag and a batch of new songs still as yet unrecorded the future looks bright, not so much Fifth Floor as heading to the top!
Please Note that due to the issues at the Sound Lounge the album launch on 14/11 is now at The Grosvenor Arms 204 Garratt Ln, London SW18 4ED .