[Album Review] Petter Carlsen ‘Clocks Don’t Count’

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For the past few months I’ve been going on daily walks. I go for a minimum of two miles but sometimes I lose track of time, getting lost in listening to music, and end up going for more than that. Once I ended up going on a seven-mile walk, simply because it was a beautiful night and I was enjoying listening to music that I hadn’t heard for a few years.

And so it was that last night I decided to go for one of my walks, despite the cold temperature, the continuous drizzle, and the steady wind. Within a few minutes, a chill had worked its way into my skin, icy fingers gripping my bones. My brisk pace served only to ensure that I didn’t reach a point where my teeth began chattering.

The soundtrack for this journey was Petter Carlsen’s Clocks Don’t Count. Hailing from Norway, Carlsen received wider recognition when he opened up for Anathema on a European tour supporting his debut album You Go Bird. Hailed for his enchanting voice, melancholic melodies, and songwriting skills, fans began itching for a second album. Clocks Don’t Count was their answer. But does this album fare? Read below for my thoughts.

Opening up almost like a lullaby, “Table For One” is a slow tempo piece in ¾, giving it an almost hypnotic sway. It is here that one can easily compare Carlsen’s voice to Jason Mraz, but it would be an incredible mistake to assume that his music follows suit. This piece is sublime and gorgeous, beginning almost like a child falling asleep, the middle some eerily soothing phantasmagoria, and the end the child awakening only to wish that their dream had been uninterrupted.

In a way, perhaps this might be the most accurate way to describe the rest of the album. Listening from one end to the other, there is a feeling that Clocks Don’t Count isn’t like most other albums. At home, I laid back, easing myself into my couch, forgetting my headphones were wrapped around my head as I stared out my window at trees dancing in the wind, gray clouds moving sideways. Time seemed to stop as song after song played.

If I had to use several artists to describe Carlsen, I would fall upon Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Riverside, Anathema, and Opeth (specifically their Damnation album). And yet, even with these artists, there is something wholly unique about Carlsen, something that places him beside these artists, not behind them.

Keep an ear open for appearances from fellow Norwegian singer Unni Wilhelmsen (“Table For One”) and Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh (“Built To Last”).

The Final Word: In the realm of alt-pop, I cannot think of an album that I would recommend more highly than Petter Carlsen’s Clocks Don’t Count. This is an album that I will return to many times, I guarantee that.

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