Elegiac Finnish Indie for 2023

Finnish indie artists Arppa and Anu Marin (WHAT A TUNE)
Finnish indie bops for whatever the weather. (Left to right) Arppa (Photo: Andre Pozusis), Anu Marin (Photo: Kaisa Maria Hollanti)

Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the sixth year running. The country is neither a tourist hot spot nor the worlds richest, and it suffers cold harsh winters. What’s their secret? A strong social welfare system? Swathes of unspoiled natural beauty? Or, perhaps, these gloomy tracks have some kind of reverse-engineering emotional effect? Have a listen to WATs Picks of the Month for the NATO newbies below.

Anu Marin — Äiti

Life is tough. Sometimes, after a particularly challenging day, the only thing for it is to lie on the floor and eat cake. When these situations arise, Äiti provides an excellent sonic accompaniment. Speaking to WAT, indie folk singer Anu Marin explains that she writes songs with the aim of “maximising misery” because music can heal us through emotional catharsis . Her debut single, Äiti, touches on feelings of loneliness, self-doubt and anxiety. “Mitä sanois mun äiti?” the song’s protagonist repeats, translation: “What would my mother say?”.

Lyyti — Katastrofin laajus

Lyyti’s bell-like voice glides like a gentle wave over simple piano chords in Katastrofin laajus. The singer-songwriter explores the fear of letting her guard down to someone new and, in the process, uncovering painful repressed memories. This sounds as though it were designed specifically to soundtrack your main character moment looking out of the window at the rain. Bonus points if one hand is pressed dramatically against the glass.

Arppa — Luulin että

Luulin että is a gem of a track, released as part of Arppa’s third album, Valeria. It’s an intimate acoustic track about looking for something, but finding something else along the way, and re-discovering connection with people. The poignancy of the melody and Arppa’s tone, soft and almost whispered at certain points, carries a powerful emotional charge.

Maustetytöt Ei niin kovin suuri city

Let’s pick up the mood for the final track, shall we? Electro-indie duo Maustetytöt, made up of sisters Kaisa and Anna, released their third studio album in March, Maailman onnellisin kansaThe Happiest People in the World. Sounds cheery, right? Think again. The music video for lead single Ei niin kovin suuri city sees the sisters sitting at a table, one staring blankly into space and the other with her head on the table. Meanwhile, over a thudding synth beat, the deadpan lyrics include phrases that roughly translate to “I can cry here, no one cares” and “This city has killed me”.

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