Album of the month
Above The City
Swedish band, Club 8, has been making notably excellent electronic indie pop for almost two decades now, but have you heard of them? I doubt it.
Indeed, Johan Andergård, Club 8’s prime mover and label chief of Labrador Records, has long since given up on Sweden. He recently told me that he doesn’t even bother to promote Club 8 albums in his home country any more.
“I don’t think people in Sweden generally have that great taste in music; so just because you do something that’s really good it doesn’t mean that people will like it,” he said.
“We almost don’t release our albums in Sweden. We don’t do any interviews or any kind of promotion with the Swedish media. This will sound quite lazy I guess, but it’s a lot of work and if you get a couple of bad reviews you can tell that people haven’t really listened to the album.
“We do have a few fans here and I really appreciate that but I don’t want to make an effort targeting the media here. I’m not interested in that. If people want to listen to us anyway then that’s nice.”
This may seem an odd reaction from someone who, as well as being an integral part of two of Sweden’s best bands (he’s also a member of the Acid House Kings), runs a label, Labrador, which has the declared aim of releasing the best of Swedish music.
However, just a quick flick-through Swedish newspapers’ entertainment sections over the last month or so will make Andergård’s antipathy to the Swedish media a lot easier to understand. This reader could find no mention of Club 8’s eighth album of a leisurely 18-year career.
This indifference is quite remarkable. Andergård and his vocalist band mate, Karolina Komstedt, aren’t making high-falutin’ space jazz or sandblasted heavy rock. Above This City is chock-full of the brand of warm electronic pop with which Sweden has made its name in recent years. And it’s hardly standard fare either. We’re talking about music that is of a decidedly superior vintage.
Take, for example, the album’s second track, Stop Taking My Time, a propulsive, throbbing, synth-strafed nugget of electro gold that would have sat comfortably on any late eighties/early nineties New Order album. This is a song that should have been all over the radio in Sweden but I’ve not heard it once.
Club 8 – Stop Taking My Time
You Could Be Anybody, which follows Stop Taking My Time, is the kind of melody-drenched, blissed-out Balearic anthem that could have graced any number of Ibiza compilation albums.
Andergård’s not afraid of tubthumping either. Lead track, Kill, Kill, Kill, is a woozy, unsettling update on The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder, replete with Hammer Horror organs and a disturbing video.
Club 8 – Kill, Kill, Kill (potentially upsetting content)
Let’s make it clear – we’re not talking about scratchy, unambitious indie music here or vacuous airhead dance. Club 8 make intelligent pop music that should be huge.
Not that Andergård seems that bothered with his homeland’s indifference.
“We haven’t really made an effort to become more popular – I think we’ve been sort of happy where we are. We do have a lot of fans worldwide; we can go to the US and play if we want to, or we can go to South America or Asia, and have an audience there,” he said.
“I’d rather play in Indonesia and have a huge crowd and a nice hotel room, than play in the UK or Sweden for a couple of beers and have to sleep on someone’s sofa.”
You have to admit – the man has a point.
Josefine Jinder conflates Kate Bush and Robyn to near-extraordinary effect on her debut album. Big things await if she can nail some big tunes.
Imagine the Cocteau Twins on holiday in Ibiza – they might sound something like this.
AHPI – Wide as Oceans
Sami folk music is obviously a hard sell – this gorgeous album, flecked with contemporary touches, should make it less so.
Festival of the month
Hultsfredsfestivalen, Sigtuna, June 13-15
This relocated festival has a jawdroppingly fantastic line-up including Portishead, Band of Horses, Flaming Lips, Arctic Monkeys and Fatboy Slim as well as local favourites such as Lune, Miriam Bryant and NONONO. Unmissable.