How do you follow up one of the grooviest albums of recent times, the all-killer-no-filler "Now Is The Time"? Spirit In The Dark answer that question as only they can: a Christmas album. Yes, "Superbells", the sophomore delivery from three of Norway's best musicians is packed to its antlers with all that is cool about Yule. Whether taking a gospel-tinged approach to a Norwegian Christmas standard like "Det Hev Ei Rose Sprunge", a uniquely jaunty "Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer", Wallumrød, Erlien and Engen dive in with their characteristic energy and enthusiasm. Their soul-gospel rendition of "Silent Night" makes it sound as though the tune should never have been approached in any other way, while "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" struts along with a confident Latin swagger. "Away In A Manger" sounds like it was plucked from a country church, and the lead single from the album, "Walking In The Air" has a swinging groove and tone that would make it feel at home in a late 60s movie soundtrack (also: choirboy not included). "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" carries a Pentecostal vibe, "Jingle Bells" has a sunny funk vibe, so much so it's almost unrecognisable at first, and sounds like an escapee from a Sly and the Family Stone Session, and the album closer, "O Holy Night" returns us to the church atmosphere once more, a tranquil and serene ending to one of the most diverse Christmas albums ever made by a single unit.
The album's arrangements and production carry unique "vintage" vibes, transporting the listener to a pre-Punk era when the Hammond organ was king. The multi-instrumental approach by David Wallumrød expands the sonic world, but never so far it feels out of place, while Audun Erlien and Anders Engen by turns are creating driving grooves or atmospheric and subtle colouring. Spirit In The Dark inhabit their own musical domain, a place out of time, but Christmas comes there too: bring a little of their world into your Christmas!