Review Summary: Sweden must be a fascinating place.
The progression of our beloved genre has been pockmarked with events and music that, to a large extent, has been the creation of dynamic imaginations, often fragile sensibilities and Death Cab For Cutie. But what happens when the lexicon that they strive so hard to create, suddenly faces a brooding reality where extremes of opinion decide whether something is worth trying or not? Writer's block?
Peter Moren, Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson bring us an LP that sees them exploring new soundscapes, experimenting with already diverse styles and delivering a very, very classy record. The trio from Stockholm break the notions of genre definition with a confident album that is indie-everything and has seen a lot of mainstream success as well. It's funny because all through the record, you don't really care to 'fit' it in.
With Writer's Block
, the trio have broken new ground for themselves. Lighter, more subtle arrangements replace the 'bigger' sound, and yet seem to deliver just as much. It's not as much stripped-down as it is a band showing themselves in a yellow light, exposing what they are with such poise, it's hard to look at them with the disapproving eyes we're so ready to adopt. The album, therefore, finds its place in an adroit corner where, after one listen, you don't really expect it to excite or surprise, but more enjoy a beautiful piece of music.
is about love; two lovers finding themselves overwrought with a precise feeling of, well, love. Of course, this usually leads to heavy cheese-iness, and sometimes in this album, you will find the requisite amount of romantic yarn. "I'm all about you, you're all about me, we're all about each other"
croons Moren in Paris 2004
. Yes, it's cheesy, but their description of two lovers' daily activity could not have been phrased without as mushy a chorus as this.
The stand-out is definitely the superbly catchy Young Folks
, a song that deserves all the hype it has got and still gets. Andrew Bird's whistle has a run for its money with the intro, and the ensuing, almost Beatles-esque, pop fantasy is a fascinating conversation between Moren and Victoria Bergsman (The Concretes). Bergsman's part is inspiring enough to pick up the entire Concretes catalogue (two albums and a bunch of singles).
The album follows the lovers through the good times, and thankfully, the bad. Both sides of the story are engaging and they steer clear of being banal by doing the one thing a lot artists are quickest to forsake - be honest. You can hear it in the lyrics and the simple arrangements that make this album what it is. The guitars are bluesy and not 'obstructive', in the sense that they aren't choppy or angular. Eriksson's percussion is flawless except on The Chills
where his rolls and the shh-shh-shh just don't complement each other. It's a mistake rarely made, and easily forgiven.
There's enough in this album to have your attention through the 45 or so minutes. From the Christmassy rhythm of Roll The Credits
to the infectious drumming on the album opener Objects Of My Affection
. The only place where the trend is broken is on the surprisingly mundane Amsterdam
, a song that seems terribly out of place in what is very frankly, one of the most consistent records of the last two years.
The album ends with the 'happily melancholic' Poor Cow
. A fitting way to complete an enchanting record. Triumphantly Moren proclaims "It always ends"
and though the love story has, as he tells us, reached its final breath, one can't wait for the next time it starts. Till then, hit 'Repeat'.