I Forgive Nothing is the impressive first solo album from sweet-voiced Swede Kristoffer Bollander, although he’s been part of alt-folk band Holmes for the past ten years. It moves between soft and intimate – where it might just be Kristoffer accompanied by acoustic guitar ('The Rings Above') or droning organ (the lovely but strange ‘Duet of Tourettes’) – and the loud and full-band epic. ‘In Vain’ is an example of both, beginning with acoustic guitar and a declaration of despair “when I burn, I want to burn in vain”, before the band kicks in and it swells into something resembling a Mogwai soundtrack. The title track has a majesty centred on the rhythmic pounding drums while ‘Rooted’ is the finest track on the album. It has elements of alt-country (especially the softly moaning pedal steel adding to the aching sense of melancholy) that eventually resolves into spacey guitars endlessly recycling a gorgeous melodic riff, like the best of Wilco. Though it’s long, at 6 and a half minutes, it never outstays its welcome and, live, it must be awesome. Kristoffer’s voice is beguiling, sounding like a less abrasive Neil Young and, on the thoughtful ‘Running Man’, like his fellow Scandinavian, the much-missed St Thomas.
There are lots of people working in the same genre but Kristoffer Bolander’s fine album – getting better with repeated listenings – stands comparison with the Giant Sands and Wilcos of that world. The joy of music is in stumbling on unexpected quality albums like I Forgive Nothing.