Icelandic experimental singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist JFDR aka Jófríður Ákadóttir presents “Life Man,” the new single/video from her forthcoming album, Museum, out April 28th on Houndstooth. “Life Man” soars like a spring breeze. Originally starting off as a moodier iteration, JFDR — with the help of her partner Josh Wilkinson — extracted the track’s core groove, seeping newfound energy into the song. “Life Man” begins with subtly intricate percussion, which quickly propels itself into an electrifying chorus, grounded by JFDR’s half-whispered speculations: “This could be a feeling // I can’t tell // This could be the season // I just don’t know it.”
The accompanying “Life Man” video, directed by Clump Collective (Katy J Pearson, Grandmas House, mui zyu), features JFDR swathed in elaborate red sleeves, twirling alongside the track’s hypnotic rhythm. It’s a fitting accompaniment to the sculptural designs by Sól Hansdóttir worn in the “Life Man” single art. Of “Life Man,” JFDR states: “Most of us live fairly hectic lives and it can be a shock when things slow down. The song is about one of those moments; when you get a second to breathe and an overwhelming wave of existentialism hits you in the face. It’s a good time to ask questions, as it is all very strange indeed.”
Inspired by the discovery of ideas lost to time after a period of creative stasis, Museum transforms fleeting moments into a timeless monument. It is, in JFDR’s words, “an album about clearing and healing; like breathing fresh strong air through your old self.” Following the release of her acclaimed 2020 album New Dreams — JFDR found herself in an existential crisis about her own work. In late 2021, she began to re-emerge, scouring old demos and following her partner’s advice to trust her buried creative impulses. It was an immersive and nurturing period, and that new spate of energy and renewal of purpose lends Museum a weightlessness; a sense of movement and lifting up.
Throughout Museum, there are beautifully unfurling melodies and subtle percussion propelling songs upwards. There are whorls of piano and synths, sympathetic textures alongside instrumental breathers. JFDR’s vocals curl like wisps of smoke around heavy and resonant silhouettes of electric guitar and bass. As the album moves, there is redemption to be found – Ákadóttir ushers the listener toward the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a masterful gesture from an artist 14 years and 12 records deep into her career.
Following stints as a member in Pascal Pinon and Samaris, JFDR has collaborated with renowned artists including Ólafur Arnalds, Damien Rice, and Penelope Trappes, scored the award-winning Icelandic film Backyard Village, and garnered fans across the world – including Björk, who has cited JFDR as an inspiration. Museum represents an essential step in her ever-growing catalog, and a new beginning for an artist who has already had multiple careers as a musician, but who still feels like she’s just getting started. “This album is a step to somewhere,” she says reflectively, “I feel I’m right in the middle of a new body of work.”
Photo Courtesy: Dora Duna