Anders Rhedin, better known in the United States by his stage name Dinner, is not someone who can be described in few words. There are some things that he is, explicitly, on his own terms, but for all the words that he has used to describe his music, there remains much left unsaid about his aesthetic and his progression as an artist. And one might wonder, is there anything to really to say about a musician called "Dinner", a man wearing a mix of solid black sweaters, or an alternate pastiche of red lipstick and bright white nail polish, singing creeping lyrics to bewildered audiences?
There is something oddly familiar about him, but in a way all its own. At times his moves and garb are a brazen echo of a young Bowie or maybe the stage antics of Empire of the Sun, but if I could describe Dinner's music in a single term, it would be "darkwave revival". His synthesizer floors are reminiscent of the best of The Wake, as much another chapter of 80s post-punk as they are a style all their own. In the cacophony of synth, droning guitar riffs, gated drums, and a drippy baritone tessitura, there is something so uniquely nostalgic about Dinner, that it’s deceitful. In many ways Anders harkens back to the lounge lizards (in no pejorative terms), a suave ambience even mirroring the candor of the Rat Pack but with significantly more confessional sincerity. Though their musical styles are an entire departure from his own, there is a certain swagger, something in his stage confidence that is a faint fade of Sinatra, yet without reservation. Some of his dance moves are methodical, drawn together, a lighter hint of Sammy Davis Jr. without tap shoes, or even a more spastic take on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Maybe a rhythmic take on the movements of Herman Munster or Cosmo Kramer. Dinner is comfortable, grounded, but not aloof.
What’s most entertaining about Dinner is that for however unnerving his act can be, with a slight wink and a nod he makes his self-awareness immediately apparent. In his own flippant way, he builds relationships with his audience on the most basic level; he radiates an absurdist sentimentality, yet this a word that never leaves his lips. Even in a brief excerpt from his upcoming debut album, you find this quality in the simplest of his lyrics-
"I don't care.
Now why would I?
If I would care, then how could I?
I'm a normal guy.
With a normal life.
Any day now...
...any day now.”
Speaking in the third person, Anders openly pokes fun at what it means to be a stage personality, to go out and give a part of yourself through artistic creation in a certain packaged Elvisian persona. And yet it is very easy to see where the tongue-in-cheek irony ends, and geniality begins. For those who have followed his music since the emergence of his solo career, there is hardly anything disingenuous about the image that Dinner projects, in a way he is open about his goofball satire on incredulous stage personalities. Entertainer's egos are nothing new to him, having spent the last several years working as a commercial songwriter in LA.
Conversely when Anders describes his regular yoga and meditation, this is something he promotes to his fans not as a means to somehow further his weird credibility, but as something he wants to share with them. The same could be said of his performances as well, he takes the oddities, the uneasiness of relationships, of the search for a feeling of belonging, and makes many of the most disquieting human emotions manifest in a way worthy of celebration. Feelings that once lurked under the guise of "growing pains" but remain behind cool collected facades in our adult lives. He furthers the notion that at the end of the day, even the smallest experiences, strange exchanges, things we would not even describe as "experiences", are worthy of reflection.
With each iteration Anders' sound has progressed, become more refined, complete, crisper. As Dinner reaches more audiences one can tell he is not seeking some normalization of his act, whether people understand it or not. It is my hope that he continues to build his catalogue, and reaches more than just those on Captured Tracks who have only followed him since his tour with Mac Demarco. This may get him the exposure he needs, but like Mac, DIIV, and many of his other label-mates, I think Dinner too, will find his greater following. His earliest work has come so far in such a short time, it's easy to forget he hasn't yet released his first full-length album.