I’m catching up on my Swedish albums still, apparently there were several mothballed away in storage. Next up is debut album by Swedish dancepop duo The Attic. They first came to my attention way back in 2006, when I named of this album’s singles “In your eyes” as my favourite song of the year. I still love that song, and still did when Danny Saucedo covered it for his recent “In the club” album. I knew a few other tracks off this album, but finally I approach the album.
09 Destiny – Ooh, church organs, how dramatic! They quickly make way for a much more modern dance track, but still got that lovely airiness that Swedish music somehow exudes. He’s not a particularly strong vocalist, but suited to this sort of dance music in the same way as that guy from Deepest Blue was. The chorus is simple but strong, and it’s all pacey enough to keep things moving well. Not the most complex song in the world but it still feels surprisingly modern 6 years on, which is often tricky for dance music.
09 A life to live – A nice electro beat makes way for some rather gorgeous distorted synth action (that wasn’t supposed to sound as pretentious as it did). It’s got a twinge of melancholy about it, but ultimately it’s a pretty uplifting track. Again it’s not a massively complex affair, with the singer’s voice echoing around an open space. I don’t know why this is giving me such a strange feeling of positivity. I mean pop music is a pretty universal thing, but this just has a weird air about it, reminds me of my teenage years and I have no idea why.
10 In your eyes – How could I stop loving this? From that warm synthy intro into the low guitary backing of the verses, it’s got quite a dark cosy feel to it, probably why it fitted so well in the darker times of the year. Danny Saucedo’s cover might have outsung this one whilst essentially changing little else, but this still has a simple charm to it. Maybe with a less ambitious vocal I have time to appreciate the production more. Anyway, still as gorgeous as it ever was. The acoustic bonus track is gorgeous too, perhaps doesn’t push the same buttons, and is a bit too loungey but it’s still pretty great.
09 It’s beautiful – They’ve certainly found their niche with their sort of production. I suppose my experience of Swedish-born pop (not the outsourced stuff like Max Martin-penned Britneyy tracks) – while still quite patchy but greater than the average man on the street – has helped me become accustomed to the sound of it, but there are still gorgeous surprises to be found. This album has been a total JOY so far. This might stray into generic territory (relative to the rest of the album so far at least), but that key change really steps it up to something beautiful (!) and optimistic. LOVE IT.
07 On and On – OK it couldn’t carry on at this level (could it?), and finally the niggling feeling of repetition starts to creep in. This is a pretty bog-standard nu-disco track, and feels like we are going into formulaic territory. That chorus doesn’t really do much for me, does it even make sense? (I just need you on and on-?!). A few bits of dialogue, some falsetto “whoo-ooh”s and I’m eyeing up the skip button. It’s OK, but who needs this when you have/had a group like Alcazar doing this with 10x more attitude?
07 Even if it hurts me – Oh no sooner do I say the g-word (generic – oh actually I didn’t), we take a first tentative step into a downtempo. Am I crazy or does this guy sound like Enrique on this one? That’s no bad thing at all, I love that Greatest Hits collection more than I feel appropriate. It’s a welcome change of pace, even if it’s a bit morose. That simple piano riff is quite memorable and plays well against the subtly speedy backing track. That middle-eight is something else though, manically synthy, quite lovely really. The key-change payoff at the end feels like a bit of an anticlimax, but not a total dead loss.
08 Catch me when I fall for you – Back on the upbeat tracks now, and I’m actually relieved. It might still not match up to the opening salvo of this album, but they are getting their mojo back. Can’t help but feel like this stuff wouldn’t feel out of place on a present-day Kylie album. That’s a double-edged sword really, but I like her recent stuff, so it’s a plus for me. That little synthy riff in place of a bridge is quite nice, it’s not a groundbreaking track but it brings back some of the album’s momentum.
09 The One – Now we’re back on the road. Memorable hooks, in this case sounding curiously 80s, what is that? The positivity is back, and the bridges are really quite invigorating. Where is the chorus, incidentally? Can you have an instrumental chorus? I feel like that’s what we have. The middle-eight again takes the chance to up the ante, though once again I feel like we don’t get a big payoff at the other end. He’s in quite a high key already, I think a key-change might have been a bit forced, so wisely they just throw in a few bonus middle-eights. A little muddled but I really like it.
09 I just can’t help it – One of the other singles I remember from back in the day. A really memorable minor-key opening, that melancholy dance feel is back again. That choir effect is quite lovely. Song-wise this feels a lot more together, maybe it’s just because I’m a lot more familiar with it. The verses have their distinct boundaries, buzzing synth lines, frustrated vocals, before we head into the uplifting but sad chorus. OK so it’s a little “lather, rinse, repeat” in its delivery, but it’s a real earworm. That middle-eight again works very well.
07 Petite difference – Hmm, not sure where we’ve detoured here, but we break the mould and end up with a loungey French-themed track. Is this Funky House? I never got my head around the dance sub-genres, perhaps it was all made-up anyway. A female vocal too, or backing vocal to an almost instrumental track at least. A bit nothingy really, it’s an interesting diversion, and I wonder what it could have sounded like had they made it into a ‘proper’ track, seeing as many of their tracks feel a bit samey when all heard together.
07 U.N.I. – Or “You and I”, presumably U.N.I. doesn’t stand for anything? Anyway we’ve picked up a female vocalist on this song too, I wonder if it’s Therese. You may know Therese from a few feature credits on hits by Stonebridge (Put ’em high, Take me away), and has a link to The Attic as they teamed up for “The Arrival”, an entry for 2007’s Melodifestivalen. It’s pretty good too! This is a bit nothingy though, mostly built around the music than the vocals, so there are only a few disparate lines of lyrics that don’t really add a lot to things.
06 Minute after minute – Back to ballad territory, and a more convincing attempt than “Even if it hurts me”. His vocals are quite nice when they are down low, and the minimal production for the first bit of the sound is quite dreamy. Again there’s an 80s feel in those synths, what does that remind me of? The vocal effects are a bit overkill, but I suppose they have to do something to spice an otherwise sluggish starter. We get an unexpected keychange at the halfway point, and another 30 seconds later. His vocals get a bit of a stretch but the lyrical shortfalls really cost this song points. Then a… keychange down?? Is that even a thing? Well it happens, and the track just sort of fades away … hmmm.
06 Can you hear me – A pretty naff starter, that weird humming intro. But a quite nice piano-led intro, to a repetitive but pleasant enough chorus. Lyrically there’s a lot more to it than we’ve had for the last three tracks. But it’s not a long track, and they are left with little space to create much of a climax at the pace they are running at. It dithers around with some electronic vocal effects, and sort of starts back where it was. The chorus is getting a little annoying now, what a shame. Yes I CAN hear you, can you shut up now?
So there we are. For a Swedish pop album, it runs longer than I’ve been used to, though 51 minutes isn’t a long album by any stretch. So why does it feel like one? When there is a bit of a shortfall in variety, I’ve noted on several occasions (hi Danny Saucedo) that “less is more”. So the 13 track roster feels a little padded out, which is a shame as it starts off so well. Still not a bad listen if you aren’t concentrating too hard on it. I’m only semi-curious about their 2007 album now, I doubt it’ll be an essential listen, and perhaps more of a trade-in on their Melodifestivalen entry than anything. But still a competent dance album in a field not usually forthcoming with solid albums.
Keepers for the iPod: Destiny, A life to live, In your eyes, It’s beautiful, The one, I just can’t help it.