Recording information: Copenhagen (2012); Honningmand Studios (2012); LA (2012); Mexico City Studios (2012); Studio-R (2012); Copenhagen (2012/2014); Honningmand Studios (2012/2014); LA (2012/2014); Mexico City Studios (2012/2014); Studio-R (2012/2014); Copenhagen (2013); Honningmand Studios (2013); LA (2013); Mexico City Studios (2013); Studio-R (2013); Copenhagen (2014); Honningmand Studios (2014); LA (2014); Mexico City Studios (2014); Studio-R (2014).
With his first three EPs, Dinner's Anders Rhedin has already created a distinctive style, turning what others might see as limitations into bold artistic choices. He transforms cheap, raw sounds -- trashy, twangy guitars and tinny keyboards and beats -- into flamboyant pop that sounds more appealing and evocative because of its lo-fi surroundings. Songs like "Skid Row," with its neon tone-bent synths, are studies in contrast, at once dark and bright, knowing and innocent, deadpan and campy. They're also overflowing with a wit that's lacking in many of the other 2010s acts looking to the '80s for inspiration. Rhedin doesn't seem interested in re-creating that decade's sounds faithfully; instead, he uses its flashiest elements as a jumping-off point for his own impressionistic style, which sometimes feels like the missing link between Lust for Youth and Ariel Pink. Like Pink, Rhedin is a vocal chameleon (and occasionally, comedian). He's admitted that he's not a natural singer, and the voices he adopts feel a little off, like a robot trying its best to sound human. However, he finds something real and charming in that uncanny valley, whether he's singing a chorus in a goofy baritone or pushing that baritone to a bass on "This Girl," where the way he sings "She is in her head again/Waiting for someone" makes a convincing argument that Rhedin is actually Nico's long-lost son. Throughout the collection, Rhedin excels at expressing the hedonistic rush of partying with a paradoxically self-aware clarity: "Going Out" sizzles with anticipation, opening with a howl that would do Gene Loves Jezebel proud, while "Overtake" reflects on the peak of the night with a dose of Magnetic Fields' melancholy. He magnifies this undercurrent on luminous ballads like "Girl" and "Say What You Want (Love Is Death)," which are just as attention-getting in their soft simplicity. That Three EPs: 2012-2014 is arranged in roughly reverse chronological order makes its satisfying flow from track to track even more impressive, and adds to the feeling that this is an exciting introduction to an eccentric, romantic, perceptive talent. ~ Heather Phares