Review Summary: I'm sorry, El Perro Del Mar, but our love could never last...
El Perro Del Mar likes to write dreamy songs about love; but never from the side of having it to keep. Setting out to compose a new collection of wounded love songs, the eternally internalizing Swedish indie-pop seamstress, Sarah Assbring, looked to inspiration from Lou Reed, historic writer/poet G.K. Chesterton and the assistance of fellow Swede musician, Rasmus Hägg, to help create her latest release, Love is Not Pop.
Assbring's first collaborative effort, the album is an altogether less-poppy affair than her previous work. Tracks on the album nearly all clock in at twice the length of those on prior efforts, as songs are more fleshed out and explored --- leaving a deeper resonance than her more conventional, two and a half minute compositions. Shedding a bit of the angelic breeze draped over the vocals of her earlier sound, Love is Not Pop
sounds more like the real Sarah Assbring; a bit more exposed and delicate than the sound she would encase in a '60s-pop bubble, shielding the deepest emotions emanating from within her sound. On Love is not Pop
, El Perro Del Mar looks to walk you down the sad, shadowy avenues of her wary soul as she does her best to end things easy; all the while creating the perfect sound for a love never meant to last.
On her 2006 debut, El Perro Del Mar
, Assbring created a couple completely brilliant songs with which to make herself known. One absolutely perfect and another close to it. “A Change of Heart,”
off her most recent Love is Not Pop
LP, is a cool, chill groove that, like “Party”
off her debut, is the near masterpiece of the album. A similar mid-tempo song with a much stronger dose of confidence, “A Change of Heart”
is an older, wiser song that doesn't bother feeling sorry for itself; instead, it hints at hope for love and change. On Love is Not Pop
, “Let Me In”
is the golden egg of the basket, much in the way her debut hatched “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get);”
a heaven-sent opus, adorned with charm and beauty. “Let Me In”
is carried by a vocal performance that stretches and emphasizes uncommon sustained notes, creating a uniquely unfamiliar arrangement that leaves the strongest lasting impression of any El Perro Del Mar song since “God Knows.”
Lou Reed comes into the picture in the cover of his 1982 The Blue Mask
album closer, “Heavenly Arms.”
It's Lou Reed and “Heavenly Arms”
Sarah credit with providing the spark and main influence for Love is Not Pop.
The overall sound of the record does not deviate far from the tone of the Lou Reed track. “It is Something to Have Wept”
is a song that draws all of its lyrics from “The Great Minimum”
, a poem by 20th century English writer, G.K. Chesterton. The quietest moment of a soft album, the feather-weight song could float away upon the slightest blow, before it builds itself into a climatic sendoff.
Before spinning to a close, Love is Not Pop
offers some alternative renditions to a few of its best cuts. “L is For Love (Low Motion Disco's Additional Love Remix)”
takes it to dark and heavy electronic territory with a new, interesting array of instrumentation. “A Charge of Heart (J Rintamaki Remix)”
gets amped up with low, heavy bass and clattering percussion. A serious affair, the song reflects a more dire sense of emotion --- although the original version is an easy palette to work with, leading to likely success with any results. “Let Me In (Nhessingtons Remix)”
adds a bit of sex to the mix, dropping choice intimate samples to accompany the heavy acoustic strum and electronic wash of orchestration. The three mixes serve best to justify the release of a full-length more than anything else, as the album is essentially an extended EP without a discounted sticker price. If you do not enjoy the amended remixes, the overall substance of the album runs short; especially if you don't find yourself loving all seven new tracks. Otherwise, there is plenty of musical and emotional depth found here to sooth and challenge your appetite for distraught, fragile arrangements. Love is Not Pop
is a collection of songs about the losing side of love, as the album makes it clear the relationship has come to an unfortunate end. But if nothing else, at least we have some beautiful, gloriously sullen music to take away from the failed romance.