It takes a true talent and charisma to keep the listener’s attention with your music when you’re a singer-songwriter. Select Captain sure present both of these qualities on their new album “Comes In Waves”, released in September via Soundchest Records.
Good because Danish had a number of interesting conversations with Kristian Gaarskjær while Select Captain were releasing “Comes In Waves” as a three-part EP series. We talked about mental health, as well as becoming a duo, and the future of Danish music. Now we can admire the final release, and it is a beautiful one.
Select Captain’s music has always been able to touch my soul in a indescribable way. Maybe it’s the melancholic vibe or the fragility that make Select Captain’s songs so relatable. Vulnerability and honesty are the tools Kristian Gaarskjær uses in his music to grapple with the world, and he uses them with perfection on the new record.
With “Comes In Waves”, Select Captain expanded from a solo project of Gaarskjær into a duo collaboration with a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Søren Vestergaard. Circling around the topics of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, the lyrics on “Comes In Waves” paint a tangible picture of a struggling soul. Although extremely personal, they could as well refer to each of us. The first song on the album – “Mind Crashing” – is like a needle put into one’s heart, exposing hidden scars. The brutal honesty of the lyrics comes to the forefront thanks to the simple guitar arrangement. You instantly feel that these men are ready to reveal their deepest thoughts and secrets to you. Despite being available for anyone to listen to, “Comes In Waves” creates an intimate atmosphere of letting go of a burden in a conversation with a trusted friend. There is only you and Select Captain. You are pinned to the speakers, listening carefully to what they want to pass on to you. You find pieces of your own story in Gaarskjær’s words. Your worries, doubts, struggles… they are also locked in songs on “Comes In Waves”. So familiar, as if Select Captain purposely left the room for interpretation to the listener.
Echoes of Depeche Mode’s signature guitar from “Personal Jesus” can be heard on the album, as well as a vibe of Glen Hansard and Chris Isaak. Søren Vestergaard tied all of these pieces together with Select Captain’s characteristic guitar sound, elegantly dropped some beats and violin samples here and there, wrapped the lyrics around piano compositions in a couple of songs. The final effect is refreshing. The new face of Select Captain is a more complex and spellbinding one.
Upon the first listen, “Comes In Waves” might seem burdensome and overwhelming. Don’t let that discourage you from diving into the album. Even though it talks about difficult issues, its intention isn’t to dishearten the listener. Rather, it aims to build a safe channel for the release of most painful thoughts. When I struggle, I turn to music like this for guidance. It leads my thoughts through the meandering paths of sadness to a safe exit. Select Captain’s songs aren’t particularly comforting in a common sense. Their healing power lies in showing a perspective of another struggling human being. The narrator fights his demons, keeps on trying to tame them. As we all do, one way or another.
“All these years have passed, did you notice? (…) passing by so fast, did you enjoy it? I don’t know but I will try to make it,” sings Kristian Gaarskjær in the single “Promise”. I’ll leave you with this glimpse of hope or persistence. I hope “Comes In Waves” becomes a shelter to you in tough times, as it already did to me.