Jonathan Schultz — the young Danish artist that performs and records as Schultz & Forever — has already been through a few forms. Musically speaking, he’s tried out different approaches across his three EPs. In February he’ll release his debut LP, Grand Guignol, an album that once more finds him exploring new sonic territory while also cataloging great personal change. Schultz was raised in the Free Christian Church and grew up in an insular, religious environment while attending Christian schools; he didn’t learn about the Big Bang theory until he got to college. Music became central to Schultz’s new understanding of his identity, as he took particular inspiration from Nick Cave, another artist with a complicated relationship to Christianity. Described as a “coming-of-age” album with a Biblical arc, Grand Guignol is Schultz’s reckoning with his upbringing and his eventual departure from the church, telling the story of him rejecting his roots and starting anew.
All of that might lead one to believe that the music on Grand Guignol is pretty heavy. But its lead single “Backwards,” at least, is a dramatic track that is also a hell of a lot of fun. It’s a slick, groovy thing that sounds like glossy, yacht- or lounge-destined pop from the late ’70s or ’80s. It’s one of those tracks where it’s easy to love all the discrete parts: the humid guitar flickers in the verse giving way to a slithery lead riff in the chorus, the rubbery bass synth against the pillowy chicness of the other synths, the way the beat drives Schultz’s vocal forward into an expressive and ridiculously infectious chorus. It doesn’t sound like many other young artists in 2017, and it’s a promising introduction to Grand Guignol. Check it out below.
Grand Guignol is out 2/23 via Big Oil Recordings.