Lukas Graham – Lukas Graham (Blue Album) (Album Review)

I hadn’t heard about Lukas Graham until my 15 year-old cousin went on about 7 Years as if I’d been living under a rock. Now I can’t avoid the wistful and catchy earworm, with the number one NZ single on high-rotate on the radio.

The track has been a sudden worldwide hit for the Danish band, who went from homemade YouTube videos to sitting pretty on the Billboard Hot 100. It looks like it hasn’t affected baby-faced lead singer Lukas Graham Forchhammer (he’s actually 27) who already had a taste of fame as a child actor in the early 90s. The massively popular live act is completed by Magnus Larsson on bass, Kasper Daugaard on keyboard and Mark “Lovestick” Falgren on drums.

Their second album is a soul-filled and funky effort, with Lukas’ heartfelt autobiographical lyrics – on the growing pains of drinking, drugs, heartbreaks and his father’s death –striking a chord with his young fanbase.

Standout tracks include equally popular Hard Knock Life ode Mama Said, and the brilliant Bruno Mars-lite ditty Strip No More that was a number one single back in Denmark.  He’s definitely got the knack in creating simple pop songs that have you singing along before the song is finished.

But the album has an annoying trend of switching from toe-tapping pop songs to maudlin navel-gazing and back again. His father died in 2012, so with a lot of growing up to do there’s a lot of sentimental piano-driven reflection on his younger days like Happy Home. What Happened to Perfect is his best attempt at channeling Ed Sheeran, without striving for anything too complicated.

But it’s his voice that has secured the bands appeal, he’s got the sound and swag of Adam Levine, with the album coming off all soulful like Maroon 5’s Songs for Jane. He’s got a passionate delivery that is hard to resist, especially on closing number My Funeral, a bittersweet closer that you can’t help raise a glass too.

While lyrically he’s got a long way to go, his embrace of a variety of instruments keeps the album fresh as it progresses. Pianos, strings and horns all help lift what could have easily been filler tracks.

Hopefully Lukas proves he’s not a one hit wonder, with such a striking voice and a talent for infectious pop it would be great to see him and the band back up their overnight success.

Clayton Barnett

Click here to listen to Mama Said from the Blue Album: