ALBUM REVIEW: Sivu ‘Something On High’


My first encounter with Sivu was fairly up close and personal. I, like over half a million others, watched the artist perform whilst inside an MRI scanner, the beautifully bleak ‘Better Man Than He’.

So, what were our first impressions? Well, for starters, he’s got brilliant vocal control. You can actually watch his epiglottis move about and see him effortlessly glide over vocal bridges, as his tongue lo-lo-lo-loll’s around. But, perhaps more journalism and less vocology, you could see a creative mind at work, breaking the tedium of popular music videos, by exposing himself in a more artistic manner, than say, ‘Blurred Lines’. Also, the song itself is wonderful, which was reaffirmed when I caught his La Blogothèque rendition some months later.

Sivu’s brooding debut record sees the Cambridge musician, battle with the anxieties of every day life, death and ‘himself’. With the release of ‘Something On High’ he wanted to avoid the label of singer/songwriter and create something larger than himself. Which is maybe why he adopted the Finnish translation of his surname, rather than use his full name, James Page.

His perfect left-field Indie credentials are hard to ignore: he’s recorded with Marika Hackman and Alt-j, with whom he shares the same producer, Charlie Andrew, and he’s toured with Paul Thomas Saunders, with whom shares strong vocal similarities. Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman has also remixed Sivu’s fidgety track ‘Can’t Stop Now’, which funnily enough sounds like a ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ outtake.

‘Something On High’ thankfully lives up to the hype. It actually stands alone from its alternative counterparts, as it combines the biblical imagery and introspective ponderings of nu-folk, with the melodies and mechanical percussion of indie music. The first five songs are very propulsive, as if he’s frantically searching for something, as he sings “We can’t stop now, I don’t know myself anymore, we can’t stop now until we know for sure”. By the latter half of the record Sivu’s having some serious revelations and it’s reflected as the pace mellows and each euphonious chorus floats on past. It all culminates with the sweet adieu that is ‘Departure’, as ‘Something On High’ becomes a refined reminder to the listener that they are not alone.