Friday, November 09, 2007

From Sweden With Love

It was my Aunt Joyce who traced one of the roots of my maternal family tree back to Sweden, which delighted me for no other reason than that it seemed somewhat exotic. I didn't buy a Swedish car just because of this, but Aunt Joyce's genealogical efforts in some small way may have helped close that deal. Musically, we're in the middle of something of a Swedish invasion on these shores, so while I wait for the new Hives record to drop next week (why in the world hasn't Saab used one of their songs in a commercial?), here's a quick look at a few new releases from my Swedish cousins.

The Perisher's Victorious is a lush pop record that is a little reminiscent of Dire Straits to my ear, with a fair amount of Blue Nile mixed in (which is always a good thing). It's a fairly romantic mainstream sound that would appeal to fans of Coldplay and Travis; a sound you might not be surprised to hear in the soundtrack of some teenage television drama, which I understand has occurred. Don't let that turn you off. It's still a mature sounding record that deserves a broad audience. Very good stuff.

MP3: The Perishers - "Midnight Skies" from Victorious

On Our Ill Wills, Shout Out Louds channel The Cure in the latter's sunny, pop manifestation, setting tales of melancholy to jangly, imminently hummable melodic confections. For me, this record generates a fair amount of '80s nostalgia, but is most enjoyable without seeming overly derivative. Lead-off track "Tonight I Have To Leave It" was cooked using only a slight variation on the recipe for "In Between Days," and I'm ok with that. Songs like "Impossible" are damn near impossible not to sing along with after just a few listens. Shout Out Louds are a skilled bunch of musicians, with keen ears for melody and a talent for song structure.

MP3: Shout Out Louds - "Tonight I Have To Leave It" - from Our Ill Wills

Jens Lekman is something of an anomaly. On his new release, Night Falls Over Kortedala, he manages the seemingly impossible task of being twee and bombastic at the same time ("And I Remember Every Kiss"). He seems both earnest and tongue-in-cheek. He's Burt Bacharach and disco ("Sipping On The Sweet Nectar"), folkster and hipster. He's sweet, and maybe naively honest ("I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You"). He's clever with a lyric, and has a great sense of humor ("A Postcard To Nina"). He's a Swedish Jonathan Richman. He's a musical gentle giant and a complete breath of fresh air. This record is consistently smile-inducing, and often outright laugh-worthy, a thing of joy.

MP3: Jens Lekman - "Your Arms Around Me" from Night Falls Over Kortedala.