Existential questions have rarely sounded so cool. With impeccable musical taste and headstrong lyrics, the up-and-coming Norwegian group Rohey has presented their debut album A Million Things. The four-piece band shows clear hints of influence from groups like Hiatus Kaiyote, while also forging a uniquely original sound. The 12-track LP offers expert musicianship, heavy beats, and thoughtful lyrics, cementing Rohey’s place among the current wave of forward-thinking soul.
The focal point of Rohey’s sound is vocalist Rohey Taalah, whose buttery delivery and introspective lyrics present a fresh and captivatingly honest perspective. Not to be left out as mere sidemen are the band’s rhythm section players Ivan Blomqvist on keys, Kristian B. Jacobson on bass, and Henrik Lødøen on drums. These three converge seamlessly to form lush, sometimes quirky, but always-funky musical pads over which Taalah’s vocals float.
The opening track “I Found Me” sets the tone both musically and thematically for the remainder of A Million Things. With searing synth pads from Blomqvist and a forceful groove from Jacobson and Lødøen, Taalah sings about abandoning preconceived societal expectations and leaning into one’s true self. In the song’s hook, she writes, “I’ve been denying my true self / but now I found me / I’ve been pretending to be someone else / but now I found me.” With its electric energy and self-affirming message, “I Found Me” acts as a statement song and an impressive introduction to a debut album.
One of the more thought-provoking and meditative tracks on A Million Things is “Cellphones and Pavements,” in which Taalah questions many of mainstream society’s habits over chugging bass notes and more atmospheric production than is heard elsewhere on the album. In perhaps the most poignant line, Taalah writes, “Pushing and screaming to make it to the finish, but do you know what’s waiting? These are the footprints you leave / are you proud of them?” The track strikes a healthy balance of posing counter-culture questions without preaching any particular message.
Things turn more upbeat with the bubbly “Can’t Get This.” The band offers an almost manic, syncopated palette for Taalah to sing about spurning a potential suitor. In a sort of repudiation of a typical club-born romance narrative found in so much other music, she instead touts herself as being more than meets the eye. It’s an advocacy for the search of deeper connection, and the sophisticated music and skilled delivery from Rohey reinforce the group’s authenticity and commitment to their craft.
On “My Recipe,” Rohey continues to solidify their unique brand of funk and originality with a bombastic riff-based hook, more self-affirming lyrics, and a keyboard solo from Blumqvist that shows off the band’s overflowing chops. Taalah offers up a method by which she lives her life, writing, “Put your mind into things that really matter / don’t be the sheep, be the shepherd… / don’t talk just to talk if you can’t walk the walk / just follow the footsteps of yourself / this is my recipe.”
Messages about breaking from the norm and being true to oneself are widely evident in music and mainstream culture, but Rohey is a band that certainly walks the walk as well as talking the talk. On A Million Things, the group embodies the notion of embracing originality and flair. Their top-flight skills, fresh sensibilities, and positive messaging are all greatly needed in the world today. This album should allow Rohey to move beyond Scandinavia and let their voice be heard around the world.
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