Experimental-pop artist Mathias H. Tjønn, creating music as Racing Heart, clearly has a political message he’d like to convey with his most recent album What Comes After, but to say the story stops there would be unjust. While Tjønn clearly takes issue with modern politics, the banking system and corporate America, the scope of What Comes After offers additional commentary on our fickle society and the motivation of the artists inhabiting it.
Beyond Racing Heart’s lyrics which resolutely convey Tjonn’s frustration (without sounding too preachy or redundant), there’s a lot to hear and admire. The tasteful use of synths was appreciated. In a break from the first album, What Comes After gets more creative with the instruments it employs, and Mathias wasn’t afraid to get downright whimsical at certain points. Examples include the wine glasses employed during “Letters from The Compound,” or the music video for “A Prayer From Our Leaders” featuring Mathias’ mother. During the first album, Mathias’ voice was strongly reminiscent of Ryan Miller from Guster. While Racing Heart has maintained a similar gentle coo, Mathias sounded darker during the second album, perhaps reflecting the divisive subject matter.
My first experience with Racing Heart has made me interested in following Mathias as he continues honing his song-writing chops. There’s no doubt that he feels strongly about the album’s content, whether politically motivated or personally introspective. I really enjoyed what Racing Heart has done with their first two albums, and there seems to be many directions Tjønn could take going forward. It will be exciting to see whether the Norweigan artist’s direction narrows, or continues to experiment with a stake in several different sounds.
What Comes After was released through Misra Records during September 2016.