Those Dancing Days, Shout Out Louds, Love is All, El Perro Del Mar, The Radio Dept - The Swede Sound of Music

Miss Fliss 08/05/2009

I hate Abba with a passion, but that's the first thing anyone ever thinks of when you use the word 'Sweden' in conjunction with 'music'. But some quality alternative artists have been putting the country on the map too, over the past decade. Indie pop extraordinaire label Slumblerland Records in the US has just signed up new Swedish band, Lichtenstein, who continue rousing that ghost of C86 with their simple girl harmonies, bare guitar chords, primal drums and tunes full of aching hoping hearts. We're reminded of a stack of attractive Swedish indie/pop projectors from recent years.

Those Dancing Days

Those Dancing Days Myspace

Queens of pop prowess, Those Dancing Days released one of GIITTV's favourite albums of 2008. In Our Space Hero Suits was peppered with joyously bright pop sparkles, from the runaway fun of Hitten and its clank of driving drums, shiny happy keyboards, and celebratory escape theme in the vocals, to the band's self-titled anthem, Those Dancing Days with its steel drum undulations and dancing-in-a-club sense of abandon. What made the all-girl summery fun band stand out was their extreme youth (teenagers), vibrant energy on stage and on record, and being as pure pop, pretty and girly as Blondie.

Shout Out Louds

Shout Out Louds Myspace

Shimmering with a dolorous gossamer, their pop sensibility includes the soaring elegant vignette, Impossible. This single exemplifies Shout Out Louds at their best, with tambourine/drum clatter and guitar indie groove edged with a melancholic bittersweet swirl to make you ache. Elsewhere, the band hold gentle elegant tinkly 60s pop sway, or get lead away by syncopated synth rave ups, or ride away on winding, all-entwining, banjo-like guitar anthems inspired by Bright Eyes. Again, the hallmark of Sweden is worn proud, with pretty, emotive, dominant, driving force melody straight from the pondering heart at the innermost core.

Love is All

Love Is All Myspace

Rousing riots of spiky guitars and scratchy punk noise vocals, backed with chopping, dynamic rhythms, all topped off with the dominance of brassy tuneage. Love is All conquer the post-punk corner in their own brash, spirited way, but with a definite Swedish panache, some of their songs being sung in their native tongue else in lingering, curled Swedish accent, and the sense of intent, bounce and passion comes across as truly Swedish. Keyboards and saxophone play a key part in their sound, and they call to mind the teenage rush and attitude of UK punk bygones, X-Ray Spex. As well as having top tunes, Love is all are winsome by saying crazy things like 'the band aid on my nose is due to the fact that I ran in to a wall' and singing about keeping loved ones in the fridge freezer. They were a bit of a trend/buzz band a while ago, but they're still going strong, with a new album and they are playing in London in the next couple of days, as it goes.

El Perro Del Mar

El Perro Del Mar Myspace

Why can't we have swish sexy pop of this standard in the mainstream, instead of boring bloody Duffy? Elegant, sensual, crisp clear, Sarah Assbring has the voice of a Scandinavian angel. With no need for clutter, El Perro Del Mar use voice, tambourine, guitar, and keys in their barest form to create a modern Motown, a Motown that could hail from nowhere else than Sweden - icy cool, melancholic Sweden. There's a wide-eyed innocence at work in Perro's songs, and a much appreciated subtlety and slow pace. It would be easy and hackneyed to use the word 'chanteuse', so let's declare this 60s pop perfection fronted by a Twiggy-alike instead.


Sambassadeur Myspace

Ditties so sweetly pretty, you can almost taste Kopparberg in your mouth. When their not delicately breaking our hearts, Sambassadeur can also be found uplifting our souls with Pet Shop Boys pop beats, keys and choruses. Gentle rhythms, slow but sure pace and sinewy silken vocals all meld into a glacier of honeyed beauty. Star signings of Sweden's indie Labrador record label, 'We will communicate throught the stereo', they croon, and oh how lovingly they do.

The Radio Dept

The Radio Dept Myspace

Textured, often spectral, post-rock of spectacularly painful yet dreamy allure. The Radio Dept have been around a good few years now, but they still bear repeated mention. Their songs reach for the sky in their quest for otherworldly musical magic. 80s goth drumbeats, yearning singing, sad synth strings, and an air as heavy as Joy Division that often bursts into a kind of sad exaltation, The Radio Dept are so gloriously, gloomily evocative and inspiring.

A footnote nod must also go to The Legends of Labrador Records, who released a stellar single called She Loves the Sun of New Order majesty in 2005. They have a new album now, and judging by their Myspace have gone all deafen-your-ears-with-feedback Jesus and Mary Chain style squally.

These are just a handful of choice ace Swedish indie/pop acts, so if you feel there are any glaring omissions, or you want to highlight a lesser known Swede act, drop a comment.

Labrador Records