I’ve decided to have a slightly deeper look at Swedish pop music after majorly flirting with Melodifestivalen over the last few years (the Swedish selection process for Eurovision for those who didn’t know, often as high quality at the contest itself). To warm up, I’ll do a review of an album from an artist who has only recent blipped on my radar. So Måns Zelmerlöw is up first, like a hotter older brother of Eric Saade. MERCY.
Anyway I LOVE Cara Mia (more on that another time), and I just happened upon Måns’ 2nd album. A nice easy listen, with even the more tepid of filler tracks rarely being much over 3 minutes long.
09 Hope and Glory – So let’s start with his 2009 MF entry, a solid 4th place finish but ended up seeing Malena jet off to Moscow. It’s a more restrained affair than Cara Mia (relatively speaking of course) but still a tight little pop song. The clip I saw didn’t see his vocals up to scratch particularly but it’s got a catchy chorus and is pretty much exactly what I expect from a blockbusting MF entry. Let’s hope he goes for it again before he starts to look too craggy.
06 One minute more – Into mid-tempo ballad already? Well it’s not a bad one, got a catchy hook to is, but it’s a bit of a gloomy cloud without going off into full-blown ballad. The chorus is catchy but it’s a little irritating I think. Not even a key change to mix it up … it’s alright but I don’t want one more minute.
08 Freak out – Back uptempo thank God. Not sure if this is supposed to be a cooler sound, but it sounds more like a deep-voiced Darren Hayes song in places. A bit blah to start with, but I love that chorus. Pretty generic but it does the job, he’s got ALL the CLICHEEEES. His voice is getting drowned out a bit by the production during the verses. Did I say I love that chorus? Well I do.
06 Impossible – Nooo, not another ballad already? Momentum is a bit lacking on this album so far. A slow and unexciting intro that could’ve sounded better with some hotter songwriting. The beats are good and save the turgidity from going critical, but it’s a real slow starter. The chorus doesn’t really rescue it, it’s a bit of a one-note attempt at some glory notes, but it doesn’t have much of a spark.
07 Find Love – WHAT does this remind me of? I know this is a couple of years below but it still feels a little bit behind the curve pop-wise. That said, it’s pretty solid. The first chorus is a bit of a non-event, not BURSTING into the beats, it just sort of continues. I could totally see Tina Cousins do this sort of OK-POP, which isn’t exactly a glittering recommendation, not matter how much I love T-Cuz. What do these producers have against key-changes? It’s alright but doesn’t change my world.
08 Rewind – I’m losing hope of getting another Hope and Glory on this album, this is an improvement on the general quality, but it has the feel of an aborted MF entry. That said, it wouldn’t have been out of place, it’s a good up-tempo not a million miles away from Danny’s In The Club with less vocal dramatics. I’m getting the feeling that Måns hasn’t got QUITE the range, but his voice is decent enough. The chorus and its production saves this one pretty efficiently.
09 Forever – For better or worse, this really is just a Basshunter track isn’t it? “All I ever wanted” I think. Still, chavtastic as that is, I do rather LIKE THAT. It’s not cutting-edge, but it’s got a good rhythm, and there’s plenty thrown at the chorus to make it work. His vocals are a little mechanical, but it’s quite an undemanding song. He does get a brief moment to shine just before the last chorus, even though there’s another missed key-change.
08 Saved again – He’s got quite an unusual tone to his voice hasn’t he? A bit coarse but he has good control over it. In a rare change I rather prefer the verses, especially the second one where some strings get a look in. The chorus is a bit blah, his vocals aren’t as uplifting as the production seems to be trying to make the song. But finally we get a KEY CHANGE! It’s quite a sweet song really, certainly in the top half of this album. I can’t hear that first bit of chorus without thinking of S Club Jrs’ One Step Closer though.
07 Home – The opening bars remind me of Countryfile. A generic throbbing dance beat behind this, the verse really reminds me of something from this year’s MF, a Swedish language track, I can’t remember. The chorus is quite nice, but there’s nothing really that special going on. At least it sounds like he’s putting something into it, instead of his rather restrained vocals we’ve had so far.
09 A stranger saved my life – Schmaltzy as you like, but I really like this! It takes a while to get going, and the first half goes from average downtempo, through a memorable chorus, and ends up sounding like an X-Factor winner’s song (in a good way). It’s sentimental as hell but by the time we’ve got to the second chorus I’m really into it. KEY CHANGE! x2!! The middle 8 is lovely, it just all works for me, especially the segue into the final chorus. *dies*
07 A whole new world – I wonder if I’d like this one before the complete Bublefication of commercial radio in the last few years. Because this is pretty much what is it, it’s a quite endearing sway-a-long that I actually enjoy when I’m listening, before thinking “hang on, I don’t LIKE this sort of genre”. It’s a perfectly decent entry into this genre, with some clunky lyrics though (“my wrinkles will look better with you”). A bit of a comedown from the previous track.
07 Hold On – What does this remind me of? Nothing that memorable, evidently! The verses are even more clunky lyrically than the previous one, very twee and “let’s all just get along and save the world”. The chorus is alright, the structure would be quite nice in a less cringey song. The refrain after the main chorus bit is alright too but a bit of a damp one to finish the album with.
So, all 6-9s for this one. That’s about right, there’s nothing here that’s particularly contentious, and the lesser moments are brief in any case. I’m happy just to mine this for the few gems in there, but I am very much open to another Måns offering, particularly if they are up to the calibre of his MF entries. Plus he’s WELL FIT.
Keepers for the iPod: Hope and glory, Freak out, Rewind, Forever, Saved again, A stranger saved my life.