Christina Rosenvinge, a Spanish-born Danish-blooded singer-songwriter, has a penchant for the exotic and the mysterious. Her songwriting style is dark and alluring, like the soundtrack to a French noir film, the delicate minor-key melodies almost demanding a thick layer of fog in a foreign airfield, or a pair of eyes peering over sunglasses in a passing black cab. On Continental 62, Rosenvinge’s new full-length, at least the airfield concept applies, the title itself being a reference to the flight between Newark, NJ and Madrid. And judging by the delicate mystique of the album, this one’s definitely a red eye.
Rosenvinge’s arrangements are stark and minimal, rarely escalating in volume or indulging in orchestral pomp. They exude a cool sophistication, a romantic mystique that can only be constructed with the utmost subtlety. Aside from the literal interpretation of the album’s title, “continental” is an apt way of looking at the album, that continent in particular being Europe. Though Rosenvinge is a musician living in America, her Euro-roots show on this set, bringing to mind 1960s French pop, the oft-referenced Nico, or even the chilly ambience of fellow Scandinavians Under Byen and Múm.
The album begins with the title track, a melancholy ballad with melodies so intricate and alluring, they seem to tell a narrative of their own. The gorgeous, almost Serge Gainsbourg-like “White Hole” adds a bit more of a rock sound to the suave, ambient pop (played by members of Two Dollar Guitar and Sonic Youth, no less). The song approximates something of a noisier torch song, as one could easily imagine Rosenvinge playing a Deitrich-like singer, puffing on a cigarette between lines like “love is a big white hole.” “Window” comes across like a lullaby, Rosenvinge whispering above a twinkling melody, yet “A Liar To Love” is a more straightforward arrangement, a jazzy, shuffling tune with gentle plucks of acoustic guitar.
Continental 62 is a gentle album, but a seductive one. Its sounds may tread lightly and graze your ears, only to fade into the distance, but after the final strums, plucks and brushes are placed, its melodies will most assuredly return to haunt your dreams.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.