From the first ooh-ooh on it’s clear that Satellite’s Stories’ sophomore album is less of a breeze than its predecessor. Phrases to Break the Ice (2012) was a fresh wind of witty, hooky indie rock-pop, mantled in the irresistible charm of youth. Whether the quartet from Northern Finland realized that the charm of youth is the most fleeting of all charms or that ambition simply took the better of them. Fact is that Pine Trails feels like a frantic effort towards adulthood. What makes it frantic is that the band’s desire for depth and feeling goes at the expense of the melodic splendour that made Phrases to Break the Ice such a great album.
Last year Satellite Stories put us on the wrong foot with the zippy single Scandinavian Girls, an energetic Ska tune that betrayed nothing of the serious nature of their second album. The single is not on the album, if it was it would stand-out like a clown on a funeral. The songs on Pine Trails are more contemplative and rely on vivacious sounds and sentiments rather than catchy hooks and lines. The verse of advanced single and opening song Campfire (the one with the ooh-ooh’s) has Esa Mankinen (formerly known as Weather-Satellite) singing in his infectious trade-mark cockney-Oulu accent. It’s when the chorus sets in that we realize that Satellite Stories are no longer out to entertain us, but to touch on more personal level. It leads to the same feeling of disappointment I experienced after listening to follow-up albums by Two Door Cinema Club and Friendly Fires. Albums that give new meaning to the term growing pains.
This was supposed to be the paragraph where I tell you that there are plenty of bright spots on Pine Trails and that one some level it is a step forward. However, after the umpteenth listen I can’t do much better than stating that the ‘Edgy’ guitar motif of A Great Escape is enjoyable and that the title, lyrics and guitar play of Season Of B-Side of The Tune of Letting Go echo some of the pungency of the band’s debut. Let’s hope that the sympathetic Finns will soon discover that not every road that leads to manhood requires that you renounce your boyish charm.