The Weather In Sweden - I Break The Ice, I Broke Your Heart

Owain Paciuszko 03/10/2008

Rating: 4/5

Keen observers of this website may have noticed my hyping of a band called Salty Pirates, well they have delsalinated and now abide by the laws of the seas, trading under their new name referring to the climate of their home country. Fortunately what hasn't changed is their ability to effortlessly create some of the finest pop songs around.

This, their debut album under any name, is an absolutely blistering collection of instant gems; a glittering sea of songs dealing with post-teen angst, romance, facial hair, love, loss and everything.

Opening with the swoonsome Common Sense you instantly get the feel of wit, cynicism and optimism that permeated the soundtracks of classic 80s teen movies. There are shades of the boy-girl dynamic of 50s influenced bands like The Chalets, the uplifting spirit of The Polyphonic Spree, even some of 'The Great Escape'-era Blur (most notably on Black Minds, White Lies) and the honest, smart writing of Art Brut via the romanticism of The Cure, yet, er, Swedish.

The centre-piece is My Academic Beard the greatest song (loosely) about follicle issues since Pavement's Cut Your Hair, and this deserves to become a slacker anthem of equal standing. This album version transforms the original ragged demo into a stadium-sized sing-a-long as lead singer Jon Eriksson hollers out 'I just want to sleep with you!' over the track's close. It perfectly encapsulates a feeling of moving to a new place, attending a University course and being dissapointed with the people around you. It's a song with endlessly quotable lyrics that you just want to sing along with, in fact, the entire record - even on first listen - prompted me to spontaneously accompany the band even when I didn't have a clue what the words were. It's a record that inspires that kind of desire to sing or dance or air-drum, it creates imaginary montages in your mind or makes you start performing as if you were the front-man (who also suddenly magically plays the drums or does air guitar solos).

From this track the album is pretty much a perfect pop record (a few of the opening tracks, though good, don't grab as much as the latter stuff). Starting with Love Will Tear Us To Shreds they momentarily become the Swedish Los Campesinos! After this Twenty Somethings opens on a stupendous drum loop and guitar riff, throwing in a so 80s twinkly sound that you can almost see The Breakfast Club dancing in detention. The song itself is as close as you can get to an incendiary song for the awkward, as Eriksson sings about lost mobile phone numbers and then the track erupts it into lolloping chants of 'I would like to call you up...'. It's spine-tingling in its simplicity and slaps a big ol' smile on your face.

El Bottelon clocks in at just over a minute and crams in a disproportionate ammount of energy, ideas and operatics into that space, even if - for a moment - it sounds a bit too much like Franz Ferdinand.

Penultimate track Forever All Taken Together is bittersweet and delightful, and makes you want to stand listening to it played over a festival field in the dark, arms wrapped around strangers, swaying to the music. It's the kind of song you would imagine Stephen Malkmus writing now if he was fresh out of uni.

The album climaxes on an exuberant note with The Pirates Had A Slacker Curse, the perfect kind of nonsensical, madcap release after the sadness of the previous track. It sends you out on a dizzying high, and will prompt an instant replay and the songs and riffs will linger pleasantly in your mind for weeks and months to come.