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Album Review: Dopamine by Normandie

Normandie

Dopamine

Release: February 9, 2024

Article by Laur Wirth


PHOTO BY JACOB PAPINNIEMI


What if we pushed our brains and bodies far beyond their limits? That's the question the Swedish trio Normandie ask themselves on their newest album Dopamine. With their newest album, a follow-up to their 2021 release Dark & Beautiful Secrets, the group from Stockholm has included songs relating to different natural chemicals and the chase for different highs.


The band describes the album as a look into the future and what it might look like. "Making this album futuristic and dystopian came very naturally when we started discussing the current state of the world. We're all on overdrive. We're upping the stakes all the time, and everybody has a higher tolerance now for stress in a way that nobody saw coming," they explain. "Back in the old days you were sowing potatoes and that was your one goal for the day – we were hunter-gatherers and we were just there to provide for our families. Today, we have so many things going on. We should strive for greatness, follow our dreams... but we also need to live".


To keep the band's concept of the "Dopamine Clinic" running, they released (or prescribed) a new song from the album on the first of every month leading up to the album release.


The album starts with the song Overdrive, offering a great start to Dopamine. The song starts with a very energetic sound, throwing you right into it. The rock melody aligns perfectly with the lyrics, making it a breakout song into a new era. 


Serotonin is track two, and also the first song that got released in advance. Serotonin is one of the natural body chemicals that controls your mood. The lack of it can cause depression, anxiety, and mania, among other health issues. That can also be seen in the lyrics. 


"I can't seem to love without hurting

My head is at war with my heart

I swear that I'm all out of hoping

So fill me up with serotonin"


Asking to be filled with serotonin to find happiness again and feel better, instead of hurting all the time.



Flowers For The Grave is the next song on the album and another previously released track. Mentioned in the lyrics is another chemical and the title of the album, dopamine. Dopamine acts on areas of the brain to give you feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. A deficit of dopamine can, among other effects, cause hopelessness and trouble sleeping. Hopelessness can be interpreted in the lyrics as well, but in a way of constantly chasing for dopamine to find a purpose again and get rid off the feeling of hopelessness.


Next is Blood In The Water. A song I interpret as finding people who feel the same way. It's easier to get through hardships together, but it's also likely that one can bring the other person down with you.


"There's blood in the water

We are poisoning paradise

If I'm going under 

So are you"


Ritual starts calmer than the previous songs, almost making it sound like an acoustic song. The melody gives of a more sad feeling than the previous ones. Given the lyrics to the previous songs where happiness was found in chemicals, in this song happiness is found in a person. You can almost think it's a follow up to Blood In The Water, taking about a specific person they met on their search for something that will make all of them happy. 


With Butterflies, we're going deeper into the sad lyrics, almost as if the search for happiness has been long forgotten. It's more of a story from the protagonist who got so obsessed with someone they will not let them go in a metaphorical way. 


Next up is Colorblind. It has a rock sound, with a little bit of a futuristic sound to it. As the song progresses, it gets increasingly metalcore-ish with influence of the typical Normandie sound. 


The longest track on the album is Hourglass. The lyrics can be interpreted as a comparison between the saying that time will heal all wounds while it doesn't.


"I save my tears inside an hourglass

'Cause time won't fix this broken promise land"


The screaming part towards the end the song feels as heavy as the lyrics are, emphasizing the meaning of the song perfectly. 


Sorry is another song that gives off a more calm feeling in the beginning, then slowly progressing and giving a more hopeful vibe. A song about finally closing the chapter with another person that once made you happy, and then took this feeling from you. By letting them go, you're able to find your own happiness again. 


Back with the upbeat rock sound from the beginning, All In My Head connects to what was said in Overdrive. Questioning your own sanity and if everything was really true or just a manic episode, also going back to Serotonin


The album finishes with the song Glue. The pop melody makes you feel all the chemicals you need for happiness. What feels like the summer song of the year, can be interpreted as looking back on the good days with a specific someone. Even if there were bad days, it always feels better to look at the good days and don't let the bad overshadow them. 


"I was the mess

You were the glue"


There's a storyline that continues throughout the whole album. From searching for happiness to finding it, from heavy sounds to songs to which you can even dance. This record is a perfect mix, and everyone will definitely find their favorite song on it.




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