Thoel Simérville is the collaboration between Australian emcee Thorts and Swedish producer Joel Siméus. Both have been making music for some time, with Siméus working as part of the Empty Space Collective, and Thorts having collaborated with the likes of Eligh and Ceschi, among others. They now present their first album together, Singer-Songwriter Demos Vol. 1.

While this project might have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek kind of title in Singer-Songwriter Demos Vol. 1, what you really have feels more akin to an underground hip hop mixtape you might have come across fifteen to twenty years ago. This is to say that while Siméus is providing some wild experimental beats to the project and Thorts is dropping clever verses here and there, you don’t get that much in the way of fully formed accessible pop songs. Instead, you get all of these stops and starts and transitions as the two keep bouncing musical ideas off of each other. Sometimes they do click for an entire song, such as on “Sov Gott,” where they sound a bit like Themselves, except that Thorts is a bit more direct in his political rhymes (that’s not a bad thing). Other times you just buckle up and go on a ride, and then you end up on a gem, like the last minute-plus of “Öron Ögon.” Most of the time, though, it works more often than it doesnt. The only time it really doesn’t is on “Är Det Dåligt?” which features a length section where 45’s speech announcing his candidacy, with Thorts just popping in to call him a “c-nt” and to yell “you’re full of shit.” He’s not wrong, but in 2020, this feels a bit reductive and ineffective in terms of a protest song, especially on an album that has better political rhymes scattered throughout.

Singer-Songwriter Demos has a lot of interesting moments on it, and I certainly appreciate Thoel Simérville’s experimental approach to their collaboration. It’s not always perfect, but the results are at least interesting the whole way through. Hopefully they’ll stay at it and develop their sound further and iron out the wrinkles.