Out April 28th on Houndstooth, & Releases Lead Single/Video, “Spectator”
“[‘The Orchid’] has a delicate nature, as if pushing too hard against its razor-sharp meldoes and tone would shatter it. One to admire, from a distance.” — The FADER
JFDR – the project of Icelandic experimental singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Jófríður Ákadóttir – announces Museum, her new album and debut for UK tastemakers Houndstooth, out April 28th. JFDR says Museum is “an album about clearing and healing; like breathing fresh strong air through your old self.” Inspired by the discovery of ideas lost to time after a period of creative stasis, its nine songs capture fleeting moments into a timeless monument. On the haunting lead single/video “Spectator,” Ákadóttir’s voice is a glowing aura in a mist of glittering guitar and delicate instrumentation. “I am the spectator, I am the middle man,” she intones in a half-whisper before later asking, “How can I help you if I always get it wrong?”
“‘Spectator’ is an anthem for the codependent, a lullaby for the ones slightly codependent and for those who have never felt it; a mirror into the raw thought process of someone deep in the trenches of it,” JFDR says. “The video was made with my good friend Timothee Lambrecq, and the unmissable support from my husband Josh Wilkinson and old bandmate Áslaug Magnúsdóttir. The clouds represent thoughts, and getting swallowed by a big cloud is symbolic of the thoughts that can overtake you, when you lose your ground. I also wanted to reference the album and its artwork that centers around a statue, representing energy frozen in time. I truly hope this song makes someone feel seen. It can take a long time to learn to navigate big emotions, whether they’re your own or others’. I was feeling it at the time.”
Following the release of JFDR’s acclaimed 2020 album New Dreams, Ákadóttir found herself in an existential crisis about her own work. She only began to re-emerge in late 2021 upon delving into demos dating as far back as 2018 while purging old computer files. “I found a moment where something was happening,” she says, referencing moments in early 2022 when her partner encouraged her to follow buried creative impulses. Shortly after they took to New York, the birthplace of JFDR’s earlier records, tracking Museum in real time alongside Shahzad Ismaily at Figure 8 Studios. “I knew I had to write without overthinking anything, and work on it intensely.” By the end of February, Museum was complete.
It was an immersive and nurturing period, and that new spate of energy and renewal of purpose lends Museum a weightlessness; a sense of movement and lifting up. Throughout, there are beautifully unfurling melodies and subtle percussion propelling songs upwards. There are whorls of piano and synths, sympathetic textures alongside instrumental breathers. JFDR’s vocals curl like wisps of smoke around heavy and resonant silhouettes of electric guitar and bass. As the album moves, there is redemption to be found – Ákadóttir ushers the listener toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
While Museum is JFDR’s first album for Houndstooth, following the “dreamy [and] hypnotic” (NPR All Songs Considered) single, “The Orchid,” Ákadóttir has already been making music for half her life. Over the past 14 years, Ákadóttir has released 12 records, including as a member of Pascal Pinon (with her twin sister) and Samaris, collaborated with renowned artists Ólafur Arnalds, Damien Rice, and Penelope Trappes, scored the award-winning Icelandic film Backyard Village, and garnered fans across the world – including Björk,who cites Ákadóttir as an inspiration.
After the existential questions she’s overcome, JFDR’s Museum represents an essential step in her ever-growing catalog, and a new beginning for an artist who has already had multiple careers as a musician, but who still feels like she’s just getting started. “This album is a step to somewhere,” she says reflectively, “I feel I’m right in the middle of a new body of work.”