'Painted Romans... and Time!'

(From The Weblog Of Leonard's Lair)

Like many Norwegians before him, Mats Davidsen recalls UK influences so accurately, he ends up performing them more convincingly than those he tries to emulate. Yet he certainly doesn't choose the obvious artists; rather a cornucopia of British eccentrics from the last thirty years. '…And Time!' is the second full length release under the Painted Romans moniker.

To demonstrate his peculiar reference points, 'Age Took Us By Storm' employs the most awkward keyboard melody and when that's matched with Davidsen's heavenly accented vocals, he sounds like the Scandinavian answer to early Prefab Sprout. On a more approachable level, the acoustic-based 'I Love Money' operates in the ironic territory of The Divine Comedy, whilst instrumentals 'The Long Hour' and 'Soundless Diving' will have people digging for their old Simple Minds and Blue Nile albums respectively.

'…And Time!' is no pastiche record though and Davidsen expresses his unique vision on several occasions. ‘Waiting For The Day' features a sweet, innocent melody topped off with bizarre lines such as "But you don't seem to understand that what I want is tin can Fruit". For 'Don't Be Serious', he enlists his partner Kari Bergliot Tyvoll to provide harmonies. They should sing together more often as the contrast undoubtedly works. Nevertheless, the lush synths and Davidsen's oddly appealing croon reach their peak for the romantic finale 'Bide My Time'.

'…And Time!' isn't perfect but its imperfections are often what makes it so charming. Indeed, despite hailing from Trondheim, this gentleman deserves an award for being an honorary eccentric Brit; the kind you don't hear much from nowadays, probably because they don't fit in with record executives' ideas for maintaining profit margins. Needless to say, there's more creativity in one song here then there is in a whole albums' worth of many big name, so-called "alternative" releases.

By Jon Leonard, The Weblog of Leonard's Lair, 11/2010,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments'

(The Weblog Of Leonard's Lair)

Painted Romans is a project led by Norwegian Mats Davidsen. Inspiration has come from his hometown, the seaside and Liverpool. Such differences in surroundings have been reflected in the bizarrely titled 'Evil Wigs And Bedroom Moments' where smooth synth pop, indie guitars and quivering vocals are each given equal billing on one of the most fascinatingly original albums I have heard in quite a while.

'Seaside Friends' features some delightfully cheesy keyboards and Davidsen's nasal but appealing vocals. The tune is undeniably different and even though Davidsen does conjure up influences on this and many other tracks, they draw from unexpected and unfashionable sources. 'A Life Of Chores' has a distinctly British sound which reminded me of early Prefab Sprout and 'Long Gone Before The Hurt' is arranged as superbly as a Montgolfier Brothers track. Elsewhere, the warm, atmospheric synths of The Blue Nile are gloriously recalled for 'Better Life', 'She Plays Rough' and 'Man'; Davidsen delivering an appealing croon for the first two and an oddly fragile but beguiling performance for the latter.

'Evil Wigs…' has a refreshingly original sound; the kind which can only be discovered from independent releases and these highly melodic, flab-free songs benefit from lush and imaginative productions. For me, this record is definitely one of the highlights of the year so far.

By Jon Leonard, The Weblog of Leonard's Lair, 04/2009,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments' (Norwegian)


Vakkert bak tapetet. (5 av 6)
Wallpaper Silhouettes var bra, dette er enda bedre.

Wallpaper Silhouettes fra Trondheim var på de fleste måter et roteband, men et sjarmerende og helt spesielt et. Etter mange års «nesten» ble de oppløst i 2006, og nå har gitarist og vokalist Mads Davidsen startet på ny frisk med prosjektet Painted Romans (med to andre eks-WS-medlemmer). Denne utgivelsen er i utgangspunktet ment som et nedlastingsalbum, der du får tilsendt covermateriale og bonuslåter dersom du kjøper «basisalbumet». En fin idé, som kler et potensielt kultprosjekt som dette særdeles bra. Davidsen og kompani står fortsatt trygt plantet i 80-tallsestetikken, men der WS var svart-hvitt og kjølig, er Painted Romans fargerikt og varmt. Denne utgivelsen nærmer seg mer en stemningsmalende og uendelig romantisk versjon av den alternative synthpopen. Man hører det banker et stort hjerte bak disse melodiene, som både imponerer og forundrer.

Davidsen har denne elskelige blandingen av klossethet og eleganse både som låtskriver og vokalist, gjerne fra den ene frasen til den neste. Inderlig sunget, men en engelskuttale som slarker litt. Innfall på arrangementssiden som aldri lar seg forutsi. I mine ører er han en genuin begavelse som låtskriver, og en av de ikke altfor mange i byen som faktisk har en tydelig og gjennomtenkt musikalsk personlighet, og ikke minst en besnærende annerledeshet ved alt han gjør. Så kan man saktens innvende at tanken til tider er enda bedre enn utførelsen, men der ligger også mye av nerven som gjør at du egentlig ikke vil ha det annerledes.

HØYDEPUNKT: 'Long Gone the Hurt' og 'We're Gin and Tonic Tonight'

By Vegard Enlid, Adresseavisen, 10/2008,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments' (translation)


Beautiful behind the wallpaper (5 out of 6)
Wallpaper Silhouettes was good, this is better.

In most aspects Wallpaper Silhouettes from Trondheim were a whimsical band, though a charming and very special one. Following their disbanding in 2006 after many years of "nearly there", guitarist and singer Mats Davidsen started afresh and formed Painted Romans (with two ex-WS members). This ('Evil Wigs') release is initially intended as a download-album only, with cover artwork and bonus tracks shipped to the person buying the "basic album". A fine idea, that suits a potential cult project like this particularly well. Davidsen and Co. are still deeply rooted in the 80s aesthetics, but whereas WS came off as cold and bleak, Painted Romans sounds warm and colourful. The album approaches an atmospheric and infinitely romantic version of the alternative synth pop. One can sense a great heart pounding behind these melodies, which both impress and surprise.

Davidsen possesses an endearing combination of clumsiness and grace, both as a songwriter and vocalist, and often from one phrase to the next. Fervently sung, but with an English pronounciation that is slightly loose. Entries in the arrangements that are always unpredictable. I hear him as a genuinely gifted songwriter, and as one of the few in Trondheim who actually possesses a defined and thorough musical personality, and not least; a fascinating disparateness in everything he does. Certainly one can object that the idea is sometimes even better than the performance, but therein lies much of the nerve that discourages you from wanting it to be any different.

Highlights: 'Long Gone the Hurt' and 'We're Gin and Tonic Tonight'

By Vegard Enlid, Adresseavisen, 10/2008,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments'

(Even in the future nothing works)

They went far and beyond in regards to the packaging of this release. The CD comes with a very nice full color poster plus a nice photo. The sounds are very pleasant. The vocals remind me of a slightly upbeat Dave Gahan. This artist also reminds me of the up and coming Pop band from Seattle area named Poland. When speaking of Poland and Painted Romans they both have something very in common which is both bands are overly original and exciting to listen to. At times the vocals also recall Sondre Lerche which is quite interesting since both Sondre Lerche and Painted Romans both hail from Norway.

By Series Two Records, Even in the future nothing works, 04/2009,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments'


Bleak outlook makes way for a decent enough debut.

The ever intriguing remote parts of Scandinavia has that air of experimentation, freethinking and an all to often bleak feel to output which is no doubt cause and effect of long winters and lack of sunlight. 'Painted Romans' bring their slant on this very motif and get away with it with heads held high. Some slow burning delights here in 'A Safe Haven' and 'She Plays Rough' hold the highlights on the album and accordion work on the latter is as pleasing as it is unexpected. The gruff vocals of singer Mats D. are pleasing in their very uniqueness and solidly consistent lyricism is a tool he wields with great effect.

Possibly too left-field to make any real impression upon a modern music industry renowned for its safety in mediocrity 'Painted Romans' may remain within their cult status for a long time yet but for fans lucky enough to discover Norway's new hopes then word of mouth alone may find this group a new found fan base soon.

By Jon Ward, SUBBA-CULTCHA, 10/2008,



'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments' (Norwegian)


Den nye vinen i Trondheim?

Painted Romans med Mats Davidsen i spissen har spennende ting på gang. Mats som tidligere var en del av Wallpaper Silhouettes satser nå energien på Painted Romans. "evil wigs and bedroom moments" blir for meg et meget melankolsk album, det er rolige dype melodier. David sin vokal er meget uvanlig, den er en slags tung blanding av Jim Morrison møter David Bowie uten helt de samme høydepunktene/kraften som de har. Men heldigvis så synger David sine egne låter og det er stemmen skapt for. Lite lyst å fremheve noen enkelt låter egentlig når hele albumet flyter veldig vakkert sammen. Kunstnerisk helt enkelt.

Liker du litt tung jazzete melankolsk stemming så er dette albumet for deg. Perfekt for absint drikkende mennesker som sitter i ett mørkt lokale og filosoferer.

By Stein Eriksen,, 02/2009,



'These Times'


Frozen in a fjord since the eighties, Blues Child emerges from the ice and whips out his synth.

Fuck me sideways, I seem to have woken up and it's 1986 all over again like in one of those crappy dream sequences in those crappy US TV shows where 'everybody learns a lesson'. Startlingly on the first listen synth's, a drum machne, 'futuristic' keyboards, fade out's and vocals straight from Duran Duran all dominate Blues Child's eight track, mini-album. Then I discover Blues Child is a Norwegian (24 year old Mats Davidsen, formally of Wallpaper Silhouettes) and somehow it all makes sense.

There have been more and more bands recently experimenting with bits of electro-pop - take Cooper Temple Clause's new album for instance, but Blues Child doesn't so much embrace the genre as ignore all musical influences of the last twenty years. The album bursts open with a fast tempo instrumental track ('Introducing'), sounding like a chase sequence from the A-Team. This is followed by 'Blaze of Glory' an epic electro-pop ballad much in the guise of Duran Duran and A-ha. 'Edit the Day' and 'Take to Bed' follow much the same path, Davidsen's vocals uncomfortably adding to the cheese factor.

Highlight of the album is probably 'Wrtiting off Happines'; subdued grungy guitars echo in the background as Davidsen's cryptic lyrics unfurl with a certain edginess. Second to that high is 'Breathing Secondhand Air'; a plea for escapism, the track utilises synth's very effectively to paint euphoric soundscapes, oddly evoking the feeling of gliding over a Norwegian glacier.

Yet despite the standout tracks, the problem with 'These Time' is that it's so ridiculously dated it becomes drenched in kitsch. As a result, it's hard to take it seriously. It's not that it's poor music, but I would be embarrased to play this to friends, and they would probably accuse me of raiding my dad's CD's.

By Dave Allen, SUBBA-CULTCHA, 01/2007,
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