Review Summary: A formidable Twee mega-ton bomb.
Sammbasadeur has always been a band with a weird affinity to indie pop, and more importantly, occupied a strange place within the genre. Not strange in the sense that they barely fit, they are unabashedly twee & have worn their Belle & Sebastian shirts with pride. It was always more so their tendency to dirty up the tried and true formula of guitar-horns-strings-intimate vocals-go! Always seeing fit to add a dash of fuzzy vocals, or reverb drenched guitar, maybe a little disco beat or post-rock noodling. It gave the albeit lackluster outcome of their self-titled debut and far superior follow-up Migration
some real hefty gems, worth their weight in gold. The sophomore release being a graceful blend of (mostly)C86 electro-haze and folksy Murdoch-inspired pop, lead singer Anna Persson finding her voice, and more importantly, her pen. Delivering an infectious LP full of quick quips, careful declarations of love, and ironic anecdotes, painting a grim figure atop a luxuriant backdrop. European
, their third release, has the Gotheburg band craft an album of bouncy big-band pomp with heavy holds in dream-pop, psychedelic and post rock, it also may be their most coherent record yet.
by no means is a great departure for Sambassadeur, at it’s heart, its still an album in the vein of a Field Mice or Belle and Sebastian -- dainty indie pop with clever, intelligent lyrics. The album is more of a success on a scale of how well it plays that music, and how successful it is at making it sound huge. So while European
may be nothing new per-se, they still present an album miles ahead of most other attempts to recreate that feeling you get the first time If You’re Feeling Sinister
hits. They do a pretty good job as well, European
especially finds them following the footsteps of fellow twee-purveyors Camera Obscura, and effectively stepping outside the shadow of their influences, and offering up an album with chops enough to sit beside some of the best.
In a sense European
finds it’s strength in the seamless way it incorporates bits and pieces of the last few years buzz sounds
. Sambassadeur again picking a choosing between the records in their music collections, for tweaks and little tunings to make to the lush horn and string infused pop of LP3. The successes are much the same as Migration
. Being that they accent the core sound so well, just this time with a completely different set of cards. Between the post-punk meets dream-pop of “I Can Try” and “Sandy Dunes” to the groovy lounge rock of “Albatross,” even finding a little space for alt-country on acoustic instrumental “A Remote View” and closer “Small Parade,” European
is a genre hopper. The remainder of the tracks keeping to a piano heavy regimen, with a healthy dose of a great string and horns section. This time, going for a less electronic-folk sound and more of a fleshed out big band bombast with a sincere sense of flowing grandeur, or careful, delicate chamber pop. Ultimately these tracks are the most they’ve come to ever actually sounding like Murdoch helmed the project, but the songs, with their lack of shame for it, are extremely exhilarating. Opener “Stranded” starts off coyly, with a wayward collection of keys, that eventually amass into a gorgeous melody, the song proceeds to pick up at the call of a bashed drum kit and you’re off. The bouncing bass line and flowing strings start European
off at a exciting pace and it rides high from then out. Even the soft ballads “Forward Is All” and “High and Low” have a somewhat frantic pace for slow burners, but both culminate into epic collages of sound from their initial acoustic strums, they‘re quite gorgeous.
The Swedish quartet may not have reinvented the wheel with their third album, but it is safe to say that European
is a pop-bombshell. Full to the brim with infectious hooks, clever word play, danceable beats and lush melodies backed by glorious horns and gorgeous strings. All the while, Anna Persson, again, showcasing herself as a formidable vocalist, and a with a strong case against Tracyanne Campbell for most badass twee chick on the block.
If you enjoy your melodies sweet, your instrumentation lush and your lyrics jaded but personal, there will probably be much to love on European
. It certainly would easily find it’s place in your car, blasting from speakers on the way to the beach, or on your headphones as you fall asleep. Yeah, it’s that
kind of album.