Manuela Iwansson

Glasgow-based independent record label Night School Records is reliably unpredictable. One of its latest releases is a perfectly out-of-character 7″ single by Swedish musician Manuela Iwansson, the A-side of which is called “Strangers on a Train”:

When I say “out-of-character” it’s not really, because “out-of-character” is totally in-character for Night School Records. It’s not that the label is all over the place, and lacking any kind of thematic or genre focus. The opposite is true. It’s just its done in such an unpredictable way.  You don’t realise how connected the music the label releases is until you get past the sound and think more about what it represents and the people making it.

OK, that’s too much isolation-induced over-thinking for a Sunday. Why not just enjoy a dystopian post-punk, gothic synth-pop power-chord banger and dance like no-one is watching?

Iwansson‘s background was as vocalist in now-defunct Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings. Her current solo sound “harnesses the doomed romance of early 80s post-punk with a leather-bound flourish of late-70s hard-as-nails rock music.”

“Strangers on a Train” takes the guitar and bass tones and textures of The Cure’s first couple of albums as a starting point, then mixes in some Big Hair & leather trench-coat 80’s synth-pop plus power-chord stadium rock (in a Bonnie Tyler kind of way), and cooks up a ridiculously loveable dark anthem to loneliness and paranoia. And the other side “Blank Surface” does much the same, but differently. It all adds up to something a lot better than the music it pays homage to.

As Night School proclaims: “Rock n Roll is dead, good riddance; we’re creatures of the night.”