February 16, 2011
Amazing Things I’m Listening to From Sweden, Vol. 1
Fact: Every man, woman, and child in Sweden will, at one point, create amazing pop music.
Admittedly, I just made that up. But really, the Scandinavian nation of less than 10 million people has produced a spectacular density of brilliant, heart-wrenching, lighters-aloft pop that puts the rest of the globe to shame.
In this new series, Amazing Things I’m Listening to From Sweden, I’ll be discussing the best music Sweden has to offer right now, and explaining why it’s better than your faves.
Lisa Miskovsky – Lover
My only familiarity with Lisa Miskovsky was as the artist behind some fairly snooze-worthy MOR pop-rock, which makes “Lover,” off her recent album Violent Sky, a marked departure. Produced by BjÃ¶rn Yttling (of Peter, BjÃ¶rn and John fame, as well as production work for Robyn), “Lover” is a dark and bombastic slice of hands-in-the-air pop with an infectious singalong gospel-inspired chorus. If the melody evokes a ’60s girl group, the production is all malevolent robotic doom pop. Strange, modern, and totally addictive.
Vincent – Baby Hurricane
Vincent Pontare had a string of minor hits back in 2007, including the very catchy “Miss Blue,” but to me, he was best known as the boyfriend of Agnes Carlsson (which is certainly a good sign). “Baby Hurricane” continues the retro swing indicated by his earlier work, but more invigoratingly, breathlessly, and winsomely; it’s a spunky, feel-good track that simply demands some jazzy choreography.
Icona Pop – Manners
I’m late to the party on this one â€” “Manners” was included on November’s Kitsune Maison compilation â€” but it deserves another mention, if not only because Icona Pop will be playing with MuuMuse fave Oh Land at the Neon Gold event Popshop in NYC on March 3. Neon Gold memorably described Icona Pop as the perfect lovechild of Passion Pit and Robyn, and I’d have to agree â€” “Manners” is bubbly, twinkly, and appealingly weird. I’m gunning for some big dance remixes.
Sophia Somajo – Wristcutters Inc.
Sophia Somajo’s grossly underrated 2008 album, The Laptop Diaries, was the perfect stop-gap for a year without any releases from Robyn: Glitchy, twee-but-not-precious electro-pop (check out the lovely single “Warm Blooded Murder” for more). Her latest single, “Wristcutters Inc.,” is an even more likable effort from the Stockholm native, with unexpected Asian influences and a subversive message about the suicidally inclined. (“Wristcutters incorporated, throw your hands up in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care!”)
Her forthcoming LP, Cinema Beijing, should only produce more great things. After all, Somajo did help write the Max Martin track “Time Machine” off Robyn’s Body Talk â€” and that’s quite a resume.
Rebecca and Fiona – Bullets
I had their first single, “Luminary Ones,” on heavy rotation all winter, but “Bullets” might be my favorite song of right now. I played the club edit of this track by rising Swedish popsters Rebecca and Fiona when I DJed last week and even the snarliest hipsters were dancing like they just couldn’t help themselves.
“Bullets” was helmed by Adrian Lux, whose “Teenage Crime” remains eminently listenable, and the two tracks aren’t dissimilar: Both feature haunting, processed vocals and trance production that make them perfect for the club.