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Friday 16 June 2023

Savoy are back with new single 'Lonely Surfer'

“Lonely Surfer” is the opening page in a new chapter for Savoy. The first single from their forthcoming new album for their own label Eleventeen Records is notice that they are back, and that they are picking up from where their last album, 2018’s See The Beauty In Your Drab Hometown, left them. “Lonely Surfer” is available for streaming and for download.

Savoy are Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, his wife Lauren and drummer Frode Unneland. Of course, Paul is also one third of Norway’s a-ha. Savoy issued their first album in 1996, and their as-yet untitled upcoming set will be their seventh.

When See The Beauty In Your Drab Hometown came out, Paul and Lauren lived in New York. The lyrics of the album’s “January Thaw” declared “Never an option to move to L.A., To sit on a hilltop and soak up some rays.” Now, after a move to Los Angeles “Lonely Surfer” draws from their new environment by reflecting on its influence. While it’s the first time Savoy have refracted the California sound, they retain their characteristic fondness for classic pop aesthetics and love of an instantly memorable melody.

The new single conjures, Paul says, “characters surfing through their daily lives and random jobs in office buildings somewhere down the road, usually 40 minutes away – traffic depending. It’s an overcast California, but you can reimagine it in colour with ‘Lonely Surfer’s’ three-part harmonies and surf-rock overtones”.

Paul sings of dusty heat, the office in a business park, carpet fibres in a lab there and the contrast with the lonely surfer seen whizzing past on a bike during the early morning drive to work.

Of living in Los Angeles, Paul explains “It’s a nice change of pace compared with New York, a change of scenery too. But I can hardly swim and I’m no surfer. It can be strange living here in the Venice district seeing people walking or taking a bike with a surf board. If I take a walk, it feels empty. In New York, there are people everywhere. You’re painting a picture with the song. Part of the feel comes from checking out where the surf style is now – I’ve been listening to Allah-Lahs”.

Asked why Savoy have returned now, Paul says “a-ha took a long time to tour, which was delayed three or four times by the pandemic and all that time I wrote a lot, and was looking for a place for the songs. I’m always asked if I save songs for one or the other. It’s always the best material I have which goes into a project”. The result – Savoy are back. As well as the new creativity it fostered, the enforced downtime also brought a chance to look back at Savoy. A programme of reissues will also be on the cards soon.

Asked the same question about the timing, Lauren laughs “Why not? We always have songs in the background, and I’m writing screenplays so not in the studio as much as I used to be with Paul. We were both solitarily working away: he will be in the studio writing, I’m in my office writing. It’s nice to be back as a team, with a partner in crime”.

The new, LA-recorded Savoy album, is still gestating. Though it’s completed, Paul says he is still considering exactly what it is, what it evokes overall. Nonetheless, he reveals that it will include “a lot of pop songs but there are different directions – harder songs with a New York edge too. Every song is approached from its own point of view, a fair amount is upbeat, a few uplifting songs, a lot of different rhythms. What I think of as individual colours. Releasing singles first and then the album gives you chance to crystallise it. Right now, I do know I’m looking for something shorter than the last album as a title – that had such a huge title!” “The album captures different moods, different colours”, confirms Lauren. “I’m getting into William Orbit and his solo stuff, and am inspired by the way he produces. The ethereal electronica. I’ve tried to bring that in – it’s in the vocals”.

For now, we have the atmospheric, reflective “Lonely Surfer” as the first peek at these different colours. “Maybe it’s a little unexpected for us?” wonders Paul about the adjustment in musical gear. “It’s a cool change for us. We’re excited and ready to roll – excited about our past and our future”. All of which is instantly apparent after listening to the spine-tingling “Lonely Surfer”.

Watch the music video, which was directed by Lauren Savoy:

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