Exposé Online banner

Exposé Online

Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Agony Street — Italian Whisky
(Silverton 1007b, 2023, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-05-12

Italian Whisky Cover art

Agony Street was the duo collaboration of Gudmundur Bragason and Klas Qvist (Citizen K), a partnership that began in the late 80s, eventually yielding two previous albums, 119 Agony Street (released in 1992) and Songs for William (recorded 1993, release delayed until 2020). Bragason and Qvist were working on their reunion album, Italian Whisky in 2020-21 when on July 5th 2021, at the age of 55, Qvist died suddenly, just as they were putting the finishing touches on the album. Nearly two years later, the album finally saw release in February 2023, with Bragason doing an excellent job finishing up the fourteen tracks by himself with assistance of Jonas Nordin, who worked with the duo before Qvist’s passing, as well as Qvist’s girlfriend, singer Annika Larsen, Bragason’s wife Anki, and others. The vocals and songwriting are shared by Bragason and Qvist, while the latter played most of the instrumentation throughout, which includes keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and mandolin. The drums are handled by guest player Mannfred Schnusk, while Bragason handles the production throughout. The album kicks off with an interesting introductory “Next Door Overture” which leads into “The Girl Next Door,” a beautiful pop gem that sets the stage for all of the songs that follow. With superb harmonies and a harpsichord solo, there’s definitely a Beatle-esque 60s vibe going on here, as well as on many of the other cuts on the album. The 60s vibe continues unabated on “All Those Golden Years Ago,” what could be a retrospective romp with a Byrds-like beat supporting. The vocal harmonies never get to the creamy multi-part level of The Beach Boys or The Association, though they are no less effective in the context of three to four minute radio-friendly pop songs that are at once colorful and melodic. A track like “Mom’s Street” looks back at youthful times with a bit of sadness, musically something that would have fit well on Sgt. Pepper or any album by Klaatu. The title track offers an interesting character study that switches back and forth from a folky sound to the more comical voice of the protagonist demanding Italian whisky and other unusual drinks from all over the planet. “Letter from Hell” has a happy sounding surf-rock style that belies the title, while “You Turn Me Off” recalls a failed relationship from many years earlier, though again, the style seems quite upbeat and happy. The fun baroque pop sound of “Next Door to a Looney” is similarly unusual, one of many character studies that the songs here deal with. All taken, Italian Whisky has a lot to offer fans of 60s-styled pop music.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Citizen K / Klas Qvist, Agony Street

More info


What's new

These are the most recent changes made to artists, releases, and articles.