H2O’s first album is simple, harmless

Uzmini nu

A new group is taking Latvia by storm. The group’s name is H20 and with its smash hit single “Uzmini nu” achieving frequent airplay during 2006, it seems poised to be one of the dominant groups of the Latvian music scene in the near future. In fact, “Uzmini nu” was awarded the Latvian Music Award for Best Pop Song in 2006, not to mention being No. 1 in the Radio SWH 2006 Top 40, and No. 2 in the Radio SWH 2006 Latvian music Top 15. Quite the impressive feat for these young musicians!

Of course, those awards were for one song . As we’ve seen in the past, a group can write a hit single, but when time comes to write a complete album, it turns out the group was only briefly able to capture lightning in a bottle. H20 released its debut album, also called Uzmini nu, in May and did manage to extend its winning streak beyond one song.

The primary members of the group are Jānis Strapcāns on vocals and Staņislavs Judins on bass and keyboards. The other instruments on the album, such as drums and guitars, are performed by a number of different musicians. The group’s profile on the Web site draugiem.lv notes that the group came into being on March 3, 2003, with its first public performance of the song “Kā klusums kliedz.” H2O has performed a number of times at the Bildes music festival, as well as many other venues this year. Also, currently rounding out the group are Edgars Ansons-Tomsons (drums) and Juris Kalnišs (guitar). The band’s style is melodic rock and reminds me quite a bit of Tumsa, another Latvian group.

While there are a number of songs I like on this album, overall my impression of this album is that it is very… safe, I suppose. No major surprises, just inoffensive pop songs, generally easy listening, but nothing that makes you pause to take a closer look. Notable songs include the aforementioned “Uzmini nu” (for which, deservedly, the band won many laurels), as well as songs like “Cik daudz” and “Kā klusums kliedz,” all very pretty, not to mention catchy. The rest of the songs on the album do sort of blend into each other after a while, making them hard to recall individually.

The album of course has the obligatory song in English, “Gorgeous” with lyrics like “She was shiny and me too,” whatever that might mean.

While certainly a well-crafted recording with a few standout songs, overall it is a very lightweight album, containing very few surprises. Perhaps that is for the best, as nothing here is too jarring or out of place, just simply crafted and harmless pop songs. The production might be a bit too slick for my tastes. Some of the songs could use a bit of an edge to them, but the album does sound good and all the performances are solid. Certainly this is a solid base upon which to build. As these guys mature perhaps they will try to stretch their boundaries and try something a bit more ambitious to differentiate themselves from the similar crop of groups (not just in Latvia but worldwide). I await H2O’s next album, where hopefully the band will flex its muscles a bit more.


Uzmini nu


MICREC,  2007


Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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