The Utangarðsmenn were a short-lived Icelandic punk band from 1979-81 that broke up just before the release of their second full length album when lead singer and Icelandic music icon Bubbi Morthens quit his own group. The rest of the band soldiered on, however, and took the name Bodies for their first and only release, a self-titled four-song 12″ EP that came out in 1982. Led by the talented guitarist Mike Pollock, who took over singing duties upon Morthens’ departure, all four of Bodies’ tracks were sung in English in an effort to make the band more marketable, though the simple folded paper jacket includes the lyrics in both English and Icelandic to stay connected to the locals. Pollock is a major Icelandic talent in his own right, having played with just about everyone in the country’s music scene as well as releasing his own solo material.
Bodies makes a strong move towards new wave, particularly the slower, darker version of the genre. The songs have a moody feel, though they still maintain a more traditional rock/pop sound – the band didn’t make the move toward synths like perhaps New Order or Depeche Mode did, with the only effects per se being used a little on the vocal tracks and perhaps the guitars in “Dear Suzie”. The lyrics are a touch on the melancholy side, as I’m sure you can gather from titles like “I’m Lonely” and “Never Mind,” and while side A definitely rocks harder, side B goes deeper.
I bought this at Lucky Records in Reykjavik last year, having passed on it the year prior. I’m glad I gave it a second chance (at Ingvar’s insistence), because it’s a solid piece of work. Heavy and slow, but not in a depressing kind of way as the strong beat keeps you anchored and connected to the songs. I’m not sure if you can find the vinyl anywhere outside of Iceland, but amazingly you can get not only the four songs on Bodies but also an additional six tracks on iTunes for $9.90. So if you’re a post-punk/early new wave fan, you have no excuse not to get online and at least listen to Bodies. You can thank me later.